Kelly’s #imnotsorry Story

Written by Kelly – social worker, former LUC Rambler, and fan of Unpolished Journey.

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#imnotsorry I don’t wear makeup. #imnotsorry I don’t do my hair. #imnotsorry I don’t know how to contour or operate a curling iron. #imnotsorry that the last time I wore lipstick was on my wedding day – or at least the first half of the day. #imnotsorry my running pants, track jacket, sports bra, and Nike hat compile my favorite outfit. #imnotsorry I bite my nails and don’t paint them. #imnotsorry I haven’t touched hair dye in almost a decade. #imnotsorry you see my acne breakouts. #imnotsorry you see my hair wet when I go out right after showering. #imnotsorry you see my skin fade from tan to pale as winter comes. #imnotsorry you see me as I am.

I remember in middle school when I got my first stick of eyeliner. I also remember painting my eyes with it for the next 6 years. I remember spending over an hour getting ready for school in the morning and struggling to leave the house if my hair, make up, and outfit weren’t “just right.” I remember this wasn’t just a “typical” middle and high schooler thing. I remember this worry of how others viewed me creeping into all parts of my life and following me around well into adulthood and even today.

I’ll admit I still wear a little eyeliner and mascara during the week to brighten up tired eyes. Often, however, these eyes are tired from watching Hulu with my husband well past bedtime because there is always time for “just one more.” For me, spending quality time with my husband – sharing laughs, cuddles, and conversation – is more important than contouring my face in the morning for work. Running a comb through my hair after getting out of the shower is the extent of my styling abilities. I’ve made this choice because an extra half hour of sleep to charge my day of working with patients is more important than standing in my bathroom with a blow dryer. I haven’t stopped my nail-biting habit because how else do you react when the Blackhawks’ post-season arrives? My affinity for dressing for comfort over style derives from the pleasure I get in moving about my day freely and not being thrown off by the inconveniences of poking bra wires or tucked in shirts.

You see, my appearance isn’t laziness or a lack of femininity.  My appearance is intentional, comfortable, and practical. My appearance is my uniform for a life of living. Don’t get me wrong, though. I am not some superhero of self-confidence. I am often insecure and worry what others think of me. These insecurities and worries have and do contribute to hurtful self-image thoughts and actions. But much like my outsides, I strive to have my insides be just as intentional and authentic. This has required decision-making beyond the vanity mirror. I have made changes with work, hobbies, friends, family, and – most importantly – myself. Much like the curling iron, I have let go of those people, things, and thoughts that aren’t life-giving.

For me, life begets beauty – on both the outside and the inside. And for that, #imnotsorry.

 

Fail in a Grand Style

Written by: Morgan Blair, Founder and Creative Director of Unpolished Journey

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(Tal R’s “March to Fruits” painting)

Today I listened to a lecture by painter, Tal R. During the lecture this painter talked about the necessity of failure. He put up on the screen his painting called “March to Fruits”.  He explained this painting as such, “sometimes you realize something is going to be a disaster and you have to destroy it. It’s great because if you know you are going to fail then you can fail in a grand style”. The white explosion in the center of the painting was his push back against what he called “the disaster of the city scape”.  Tal R saw that he was dissatisfied with the boring and uninteresting quality of the initial work and destroyed it, making it something entirely different while still using the framework of the original painting.

“March of the Fruits” was a painting marching towards failure in the same way someone flirting with an eating disorder is teetering on the edge of a cliff.  Tal R knew the painting was unsuccessful and you know an eating disorder is an unsuccessful way to live. The eating disorder’s games cannot be won. The disease will never be satisfied until you are gone, dead, or in treatment and unable to play anymore. If you are playing its game, you will fail because that is literally the only option.  It makes virtually no sense for the perfectionist, control obsessed, eating disorder types to then embark down a road that we will never find the end to. Instead, if those of us with eating disorders are so success driven, why not then find a way to be successful within our disorders? We cannot win when listening to the disease. We can win by doing everything against it, though.

So if you know you are going to fail with the eating disorder already, why not fail in a grand style? Why not look at the eating disorder within the context of Tal R’s painting.  The eating disorder is the straight road, perfectly constructed, driving you towards a boringly perfect cityscape.  The eating disorder is the disaster that Tal R referred the painting as before he came in with white painting and destroyed it.  So, why not pause, put down the eating disorder’s paintbrush, notice the eating disorder’s rules- perfect boxes, straight lines, a road leading nowhere- and destroy it. See the failure of the painting before it is completed. After all, if you already know you are guaranteed a failure then freedom can follow. Freedom in destroying rules, destroying perfection, and calling out the eating disorder for its unattainable games.

“I will paint like this no longer!” And splat, white paint all over the center of the eating disorder’s work of art. An explosion of disobedience. A bomb of defiance. A brave, bold move saying, “I will destroy your work! I will make sure that I fail at your games!”

You know restriction will never be enough, your purging will always leave you isolated, running cannot chase away your emotions, and binging will never ease your pain.  You know this and therefore you have permission to give up. You don’t have to play a game where the outcome has already been determined. Fail at the eating disorder so that you may be able to paint your life in an unrestrained and imperfect way. A successful way. A fulfilling way.

You may put away the running shoes, close the toilet lid, eat the cookie, order the burger, smile, laugh, and love the curves of your soft body.  You have permission to destroy the painting that the eating disorder tried to convince you was attainable. The eating disorder told you to paint boxes with straight lines, so paint circles. It told you to paint in black and white so paint a rainbow of shit. Construct for yourself a rainbow of inner peace, nourishing food, and self-compassion.

Fail in a grand style.

Fall like royalty.

Fail like the eating disorder has zero say over your life.

Paint yourself a gold crown because, honey, you have cracked the code: you were never actually painting in the first place, but only listening to one instruction after another. The minute you put down the brush is the moment you start making decisions and when you take the driver’s seat only then can you be successful.

We fail in order to learn something about ourselves.  Fail a test and you realize what areas you may need to study more.  Lose a friend and you learn how to communicate more effectively. Miss the winning goal and practice for the next game you will score at. The problem is that the eating disorder guarantees failure. It doesn’t matter if you study for the disorder’s next test, you will always fail. That’s why we must find a way to destroy its rules. The eating disorder was never a game for us to win or a painting to be completed. But once you have the awareness that the painting you are working on will never be done, that you will have to work tirelessly on it for the rest of your life, then you have the ability to destroy it. Paint the white explosion in the middle of it and move forward.

Fail in a grand style and leave the eating disorder’s work of art to die afterwards.

Kate’s #imnotsorry Story

Kate is a advocate and recovery warrior on her personal blog, katespeer.com, and Instagram, @positively.kate. This post was originally posted on her blog and readers should take the time to check out her site. 

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#imnotsorry that…

For most people, today is just a Saturday. For me and many others who you don’t even know are going through this, it is National Survivors of Suicide Day.

Today is a day where my survivors guilt is usually so painful that I block out the world and get lost in mindless TV and binge eating. Everyday, I miss my friends terribly and yet today, I miss them even more. I have lost 9 spectacular humans to suicide and many more acquaintances that I made during my 21 psychiatric hospitalizations. They were my people. They are my people. They will always be my people. They just didn’t have the support I did and so today, I mourn them and I celebrate them and today, I am writing this to you.

Five years ago, I committed suicide. I was home alone in my childhood bedroom and the slices on my arms were not alleviating the extreme desperation I felt to escape my reality. The hallucinations, mood lability, isolation, confusion and physical toil were just too much for me to take any longer. I wanted out and I wanted out for good. I had wanted out for many years but for some reason, on that day, something inside me broke. I could not fight any longer. I just hurt too much.

In that moment, I turned to my pill box and swallowed as much as I could get my hands on. I swallowed anti-psychotics, lithium, ambien and clonapin. As the calm drifted over my entire being, I re-read my note. It was short and beautiful and perfect. I began to cry, to sob tears of relief. It was over. I was done. I didn’t have to fight anymore. I didn’t have to hide anymore. I didn’t have to pretend anymore. I didn’t have to hate myself anymore. I could just be gone and be free and be at peace, for once.

The drugs wooed me into a state of la-la land. And yet, in the peace, I found the first bit of hope I had discovered in years. I was breathing. I was alive and I was at peace. Peace in life was possible. My brain flicked on.

I stumbled up, drunkenly clutched the walls for support before falling to my knees. I crawled my way to my childhood bathroom while stuttering, ’Peace is possible. Peace is possible.’ I somehow got into the shower and turned on the cold water. I looked down to see blood everywhere, as the cuts on my arms turned the bathtub into a hue of blood red.

Pulsing with toxins, I began to purge in desperation. I repeated my words,
‘Peace is possible. Peace is possible.’ I had never been more grateful to be skilled at bulimic tendencies than at that moment for I knew how to purge my entire stomach. I purged and I drank water and I purged more. And I repeated the words, ‘Peace is possible. Peace is possible.’

After hours or purging, I very dangerously drove sedated to the Emergency Department. I walked in, hair wet, fog in my eyes and said the most powerful words we, as humans, possess.

‘I need help.’

I have never told anyone this story. My memory hid it from me until just last week. I think it knew I wasn’t ready to process it until recently. And yet, now, today, I need you all to know this story. I need you to hear it. I need you to remember it. I need you to see my face, my humanity and realize that anyone is possible of getting to this point. I need you to remember how important it is to love loudly and accept fully. In this time of divisive labels and hate speech, remember the humanity behind each face, the humanity deep within our cores that binds us not the characteristics that separate us.

May today, we all love each other loudly, not in spite of our differences or because of our differences. May we love each other loudly just as we are. And may we share that peace is possible – that with love and help and work, we can find it together.

Gratitude for the Road Less Traveled

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Written by: Gracie, Facebook manager and contributing writer at Unpolished Journey.

I took the road less traveled.  No, I did not willingly choose this road.   So maybe I should say I’m on the road I never thought I would travel.

And boy am I glad I am on it.  I remember my junior year of high school thinking about my future.  I envisioned going off to college in an exotic state like Michigan or Missouri.  I would get lost envisioning meeting my college roommate who would stand at my wedding and watch me marry the man that I had met the first day of college freshmen orientation as our hands touched when we both reached for the last slice of “free pizza” that was the incentive to get scared freshmen to their first meet and greet.  I envisioned making life long friends, who would share stories about “that one crazy night” where my comrades who would live out some crazy The Hangover Part 4 fantasy with me giving me stories to tell me children after they had finished college.  But that’s not what happened.  I am not about to be engaged to my college sweetheart.  I didn’t meet the BFF roommate and make a scrapbook of the college life and memories that society said I should.

What did I do?  Where did I go?  What was my road?

Senior year of High school 2010: Intensive outpatient therapy for an eating disorder, which turned into Partial hospitalization treatment.

Freshmen year of college 2011: Two months at college, in choir, dance class, model UN, and soup kitchen outreach group about to pledge Kappa Delta.  Then taking a medical leave as my parents packed all of my bags and moved me out of the dorms in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday the 16th of September.  Off to a residential treatment program in Lemont, Illinois followed by step down treatment which left me unable to return to school in the spring.  So I lived at home, was a part-time nanny, took some courses at the local community college and got a job at Starbucks.

Sophomore year 2012: Ready to go back to school but my roommate decided not to return and I got cold feet and decided to live in an apartment in my hometown and attend community college again.  But the eating disorder wouldn’t let go and I found myself in another residential treatment center in Arizona that fall.  I again was unable to return to school in the spring and so I worked at Starbucks and applied to start full-time again at the community college in the fall.

Junior year 2013: I moved into my own apartment and completed my first full year of college at the community college.  In the spring I applied to transfer to a school in Chicago.

Senior year 2014: I moved to an apartment in Chicago, began classes at my new school, but again the eating disorder surfaces and I began partial hospitalization treatment in the spring while still taking some courses.

Super senior year 2015: was able to put another full year of school together without treatment and lived on campus.

Super senior year (wait why is she still doing this?) 2016: getting ready to finally graduate.

Sooo….yeah.

That road.

Nobody wants that scrapbook.

I don’t know if Hobby Lobby or Michael’s sells “1st day at treatment” stickers or “Moving out of the dorms with shame” stickers either.

Except I do want that scrapbook.   That scrapbook is my life.  My life has not followed the road that I thought I would take…the road I thought I wanted.  But now that I’m on it, and now that I’m here, I can’t imagine walking any other path.

Around Thanksgiving I always reflect on my gratitudes.  I reflect on the people that make up my life, the people who have added such richness to my story and the people that keep me going.  I have often made a list of all of the people that have touched my life, and I often get emotional when I look at all of the beautiful people I have been blessed to encounter on my road.

I think about the very first people I met in support group.  I think about the wild and wonderful band of women, of all ages that were in my very first partial hospitalization.  I remember making a mix tape of recovery jams and laughing until we cried using humor to ease our current situation.

I remember the spring the first spring that was supposed to be my freshman year in college I had was my grandfather’s part time home health visitor.  I remember priceless, sweet moments while we ate lunch together and would talk with our eyes.  My grandfather was diagnosed with Dementia and so much of our conversations were spoken through the same handful of sentences.  He would comment on how delicious the beef soup I made was.  And I would remind him that it was from a can.   After his passing in the summer of 2015, I grew to cherish this opportunity I would not have otherwise had if I had been in school.

I remember the wonderful women at my first residential treatment center…all of my roommates, and the staff.  I remember the long conversations I would have about God with some of the soul sisters I met there.  I remember re-writing the lyrics to Broadway songs and putting on shows to distract ourselves around the holidays.  I remember sitting in a room with women who shared their most vulnerable, raw experiences with each other at the hope that another woman would find strength.

I think of all of the amazing and beautiful people I met when I got my job at Starbucks.  The beautiful teachers who provided me with laughs and support.  The friends, confidants and soul mates who are still in my life today.

I think about the diverse group of women I met in Arizona…women from Portland, New Zealand and New York and the chance to live in a small community with women of such varied backgrounds and stories.

I think about my roommates in my first apartment in Chicago, the women who encouraged me to own my life, my story and my independent, female power.  And the women I met in my day program in Chicago.

I think about the individuals I have met while being a Resident Assistant on campus in Chicago, which I never thought I would be able to do.  I never imagined what being immersed in a college environment again would be like or dreamed that it could be my reality again.

I think about the professor I met during a night class that I took while I was in a day treatment program in Chicago.  The professor who encouraged me to sign up for her research trip to Uganda where I met yet another world of truly incredible souls and gained a new family abroad.

And lastly, I think of my constant supports.  The family members and friends who have never left my side.  The people who watched me stumble.  The people who would listen no matter how far I was spiraling.  The people who wrote to me while I was away.  The people who still call to check in today.  The people who are always in my corner.  The people who remind me I have a purpose.   The people that I fight for when I have lost the strength to fight for myself.

I think of the blessings I have and the beautiful encounters that I have been given.  I think of all of the beautiful souls I have been privileged to entangle with…and I can only give credit to God and the universe for orchestrating the most beautiful, wild, humbling, humorous, sometimes painful but powerful life.

I am going to end with my list, the list that I make every now and again where I count my blessings and realize the richness of my road…the road that was chosen for me.

Cora            Megan     Sara            Monica     Dominique    Tim             Megan

Theresa     Megan     Stephanie   Ethan       Sarah              Carolyn      Brian

Hannah      Angie       Kim             Arloa         Allison           Megan        Cameron

Mom           Paige       Jay                Mist          Kristin            Rachel        Abigail

Dad             Alyssa      Solo             Aggie        Morgan          Rachel        Kendal

Anna           Jane         Mardia        Allie          Tommy           Neil            Nada

Mara           Ashley     Cat              Anna        Griffin              Voni           Kim

Natalie        Erica        Amber        Mel           Ashlyn            Mami Joyce   Jane

Tracy          AnnaLee    Mikey      Sarah       Scott                Judith          Beckie

Melissa       Brittany    Cat           Erin           Bruno              Tori          Raliegh

Jenna       Eszter

Anastasia        Gabbi      Nick      Mel               Danica

Emilee            Rubi          Kate            Megan         Jacob

Katie              Adrian        MaryBeth  Ellen           Angie

Molly             Hannah      Sabra          Diane          And this isn’t even half the list….

Michelle        Alex            William       Mona

Atzimba         Issac          Sam             Ashley

April-Hope    Irene         Esme           Lisa

Matt                Jenny              Bri                Eli

Liz                    Nicole       Brianna      Dan

Caitlin             Vanessa    Roy              Pat

The Cosmic Interactions of Our Souls

Written by: Morgan, Founder and Creative Director at Unpolished Journey.

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When you start noticing the cosmetic features of a person, you remove yourself from the cosmic reaction of your two souls interacting for the first time.

I wrote this note in my phone about a week ago after watching a painter speak about his work. He talked about cosmic interactions and the energy forces which our eyes are unable to see.  He was speaking about this in relation to art, but I was thinking of this in relation to relationships and human interactions. All week I have been hung up on his words and the thoughts that they sparked within me. Now, after seeing the Embrace documentary on Thursday, I think I finally understand why.

As Taryn Brumfitt, maker of the documentary, Embrace, puts it, “the purpose of your life is not to be an ornament to be looked at, but to do and feel and contribute.” Each person has an energy force radiating from their soul.  Imagine a million tiny rainbow particles dancing in circles around your body, and her body, and his body, and their bodies.  A sea of color painted by passions, purpose, and love.  My soul may be bright blue and purple, yours might be green and pink.  My point is that we each have a unique display of energy within ourselves that directly parallels our passions and purposes in life. So what would it be like if our eyes saw that energy when we first met someone instead of the outward ornamentation that our society has programmed us to notice? How different our definitions of beauty would become!

In order to see the beauty radiating from each person’s soul, we must first retrain our minds to look at the soul instead external appearances. This is tricky because we come from a society that suffocates us in messages that we must fix, manipulate, and perfect our appearances in order to be beautiful, successful, or desirable. It’s not impossible though to recreate our associations with beauty. It will take a lot of dedication, openness, and vulnerability though.

What if the next time you meet up with someone you haven’t seen in a long time, instead of saying “wow, you look so good!” you ask “what was the most fulfilling thing you’ve done since I last saw you?” In doing this, you would be searching for insights into the state of someone’s soul and not their body.

What if the next time you are looking in the mirror, you stared straight into your eyes and asked yourself what makes you smile, or laugh, or cry? What if you stopped checking how much your thighs rub when you stand with your feet together or you didn’t turn around to criticize the role of fat sticking out from underneath your underwear line? What if you took a moment to truly speak with your soul? That piece of you that is cosmically so loud and explosive, but our society has taught us to silence.

These are just small steps towards reassociating our minds with what it means to be beautiful. Once, we start searching for glimpses into our souls then we start to understand where authentic, lasting beauty resides. It is not in the cosmetic features of ourselves or others, but in the cosmic reactions of our souls. But, what causes these cosmic reactions? What do I mean by the soul and energy and colors and all this hippie mumbo jumbo? I have come to understand my soul as the holding space for my passions, purposes, and loves. The soul is who I am outside of my physicality.  The soul is the eternal part of my existence.

Though mental illnesses likes to convince us otherwise, we all have a purpose.  This is not something that can be argued because by existing we know that our Higher Power has a plan for us. We all have something to contribute in this crazy world or else we wouldn’t be here. It is our soul which communicates that purpose. Through our purpose, we find peace within ourselves because we are no longer looking at our body’s for acceptance, but instead we are satisfied with our body’s ability to be the vessel towards owning space in this world. Each person’s journey towards finding their purpose is different. For me, I had to come to the end of myself, fall into treatment, and rebuild a broken life in order to understand my purpose. For others the journey may not be so dramatic, but all the same. Understanding your purpose becomes a game changer. It gives you a newfound ability to feel secure within yourself and stop looking to mortal, temporary means of acceptance, such as thinness, makeup, surgery, or a new diet.

Our purposes are all cosmic forces of energy colorfully on display.  The problem is that our earthly eyes don’t know how to see these wonderful pieces of art. We have to constantly work to retrain our eyes to see someone’s soul if we are ever going to understand true and lasting beauty.

It Happened in Pieces

Disclaimer: This post contains some sensitive topics that could be overwhelming for some viewers/readers.

It Happen in Pieces

Written and Performed by: Dale Chapman

Video Files:

Part One

Part Two

Below is the video’s dialogue script:

It happened in pieces, tiny little turning points. I’ll never figure out when it all turned, because it

wasn’t a single moment. It doesn’t matter how many times I look back, how many times I try to

figure it out. There is no before and after. Just a year of choices.

I’ve heard that people stay in bad situations because a relationship like that gets turned up by

degrees. It is said that a frog will jump out of a pot of boiling water. Place him in a pot and turn it

up a little at a time, and he will stay until he is boiled to death. Us frogs understand this.

It is never ugly at first

It is sweet

Sickeningly sweet to anyone who isn’t wrapped up in it

To anyone who isn’t wrapped up in it

It is simple

It is bad

It is no good

They won’t ever use the word

They won’t ever have a sense of real urgency

Because he doesn’t hit you

INTRO

When you love hard enough, you can embrace those scars. And when you love long enough,

you excuse or even ignore almost imperceptible changes in the terrain: when he gripped me a

bit tighter, a bit more often. When “How are you?” became “Where were you?”

Quietly

It starts to change

Maybe he didn’t change

Maybe you did

And that is the problem

It was sweet

Falling asleep together

Him checking to make sure you’re cozied up in bed

But you want to go out with friends one evening

And now it is bedtime

And he expects you

You could lie

But if someone posts a picture

He will notice the timestamp

And he cannot tolerate a lie

So you stay home

Again

Things have never been okay with us. Maybe if I’d paid attention, I would have seen that on our

first few dates. Maybe I would have noticed his possessiveness; maybe I would have seen the

way he wrapped around me, made me his entire world, his obsession. Maybe I would have felt

the weight he placed on my shoulders, one tiny stone at a time.

A person shows signs of clutching on too fast, of being needy, of not hearing the word “no,” of

jealousy, of guarding you and your freedom. But the signs can be so small they skitter right past

you. Sometimes they dance past, looking satiny, something you should applaud. Someone’s

jealousy can make you feel good. Special. But it’s not even about you. It’s about a hand that is

already gripping. It’s about their need, circling around your throat.

It was endearing

His wanting to know every detail of your day

Checking in to remind you of things you’d forgotten

But this new gym habit that you formed with him

Is too exhausting to keep up with your workload

But he can’t understand those who don’t think like he does

He can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to be healthy

So you start going less

And he starts to notice

Says that your body is showing the side affects

Starts commenting on your stomach

Starts asking why your workouts aren’t as long as they used to be

Asks you every day if you’re going to the gym

If you’re going to take care of yourself that day

How do you live under the strain of someone who plans out your every hour

Who has to eat dinner at 5 o’clock exactly

And expects you to eat with him

Even if it means dropping everything you’re doing

Even though it means that he will analyze everything you put into your mouth

Because you aren’t going to the gym like you should

So now you have to watch what you’re eating more closely

To avoid the comments you know will come

People don’t understand us. They don’t understand me. They think it’s so black and white, that

he makes me miserable and that I should be with someone else and that I deserve something

else. But it’s not black and white at all. It’s gray. It’s a never ending world of gray.

The most insane things can become normal if you have them around you long enough. A mind

can’t seem to hold anything too crazy for too long without finding a way to make it seem normal

Like a numbed soldier, I lived from moment to moment, and when the moments were sweet

(and many were), I savored them because nothing tastes as good as hope.

Because even on the bad days when it seemed an eyelash could set him off, when he

threatened to leave the apartment or this world, still each night he would murmur into my ear

that these were the natural ups and downs of love.

But there is nothing natural about war.

What do you do when the one person you want comfort from the most is the one who caused

your pain? How can I want so desperately for him to wrap me up in his arms but also want so

much for him to leave me alone?

The electric way he used to want you

Has become a daily battle

Because the man keeps score

Counts the days since he last had your body

Why would you keep yourself from him?

Don’t you love him?

Why are you punishing him?

Don’t you want to be intimate with him?

You wouldn’t mind being intimate at all

But he is addicted to sex

And you can’t just have a quiet evening together until he gets off

So you swallow your pride

And make him happy

In hopes that maybe things will be good for a day or so

But he is constantly asking

And sometimes you make the mistake of standing up for yourself

Telling him no

He can’t expect you to just have sex with him because we have been together

“long enough”

No

You don’t want to just get him off today

Why can’t that be ok?

And the cycle of lust and fighting goes on

Until one day

He sends you a picture of his

Bleeding penis

After he has rubbed himself raw

Because you haven’t been doing it enough for him

So his problem

Is your fault

And he reminds you every time

He comments on how the sores hurt

Hurt is a weapon. Better weapon than most because it doesn’t look like one

He was my comrade, sinking into the trenches, grasping at my face, my arm, my collarbone. I

wanted to rescue him. If that meant bearing his blows and his slurred insults, I would do it. If I

could’ve swallowed his sadness, I would have.

I wanted to leave

I wanted out

But his depression was overpowering us both

He couldn’t live without me

I knew that he had almost done it in the past

He had told me about holding the knife to his stomach

Showed me the scar where he made pressed it into himself

Just to know how it felt

I couldn’t be the reason this man took his life

I wanted to be his life preserver, the thing that would keep him afloat. Instead, he became my

anchor. And I’m tired of drowning

He never hit me

I wish he had hit me

Maybe then someone would’ve helped pull me out

I am bruised from battle, but I am not a casualty of his war.

I am free. I am free.

I am mine.

Just Let Me Say No, Dammit

Written by: Emily who is the director of operations at Unpolished Journey.

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Why is this not acceptable anymore?  Why do people think of “saying no” as a bad thing?  As far as I’m concerned, saying no can be a very brave and bold thing to do.  Our society today fosters a sense of “you have to do everything” – this internship, be involved in this club, go to social events every weekend, attend every freaking meeting.  And when you say no?  The response?  “Why can’t you come?  Is there a specific reason?  Give me the exact details of why you won’t be there and where you will be instead down to the latitude and longitude coordinates.”  Why is the immediate response to not attending something that you are purposely trying to avoid it?  Why don’t people think of how you are doing or how you are feeling?  For example, if I can’t make it to a particular meeting one week, why do I feel overwhelmingly guilty?  And why do the leaders immediately respond back to my absence saying “make sure you get filled in on what happened at the meeting by someone else.”  Why don’t they respond with “how are you doing?”  Or “is everything okay?”

What if I can’t be there because I’m having a bad day?  What if I can’t be there because I feel overwhelmed, and it would mentally be better for me to go home and rest?  People are afraid to say, “Hey I’m having a bad day.  I don’t think I’ll be there tonight.”  Why?  Because society doesn’t value mental health to the extent of its importance.  People feel awkward and uncomfortable in addressing the issue.  BUT THAT JUST FOSTERS THE PROBLEM.  If people constantly feel obligated to put their mental health on the backburner, of course they are going to feel overwhelmed and stressed.  In fact, I think that people should be able to openly miss a certain amount of days of work or school or whatever it may be (an appropriate amount, obviously) due to mental health, alongside physical.  Both are real and both deserve space.

I also think it’s funny that in a world where everyone is taught to say yes, how are we supposed to know which yes’s are genuine and which aren’t?  Do all people want is a half-hearted yes to be pleased?  No.  I don’t want someone to feel like they’re pressured to join something or do something because that’s not the true intent or desires of their heart.  I want someone to get involved in a group or organization or attend an event because they genuinely desire to.

Imagine a world like this.  What if when you said you couldn’t make it, your friends, your coworkers, your organization, responded with, “Okay.”  And later followed up by checking in to see how you were doing.  Wow.  Imagine how guiltless you would feel if you needed to take time for yourself.  Imagine how much weight that would take off your shoulders.  Imagine how much more welcome people would feel when they did come to the event or organization or meeting.  And imagine how much easier it would be to say no if you were invited to something you genuinely did not want to attend.  Crazy concept right?

Now I realize there are exceptions to this in the sense that some things are obligatory, and we can’t miss an event or meeting or whatever it may be every single week if we want to be involved, make connections, or keep our job.  But if one day or one event or one meeting, an individual expresses a sentiment that they will not be able to make it, say okay and move on.  What I’m saying is stop pushing past people’s personal boundaries.  Respect people’s decisions when they say no.

So please, just let me say no, dammit.

Maybe this is just me, but I really hope not.  Please share out your perspectives on this topic if this resonated with you.

Some questions to think about:

  1. When was the last time you said yes to something you actually wanted to say no to?
  2. When was the last time you felt guilty about saying no?
  3. When was the last time someone pressured you into saying yes?

I would encourage whoever resonated with this to practice saying no without explaining yourself at least once over the course of this next week.

State of (my) Union

(This post was originally posted on Emma Florin’s personal blog, emmaflorin.wordpress.com.)

I’ve spent a large portion of my life visiting other cultures and nations around the world. I would go as far to say that my experiences abroad have shaped me into the person I have become. I’ve been to magical places like Paris, the Caribbean, the rain forest of Costa Rica, and even the Gobi freeing Desert.

I’ve also been to places struck by insane poverty and disease. I’ve been in hospitals in Africa where I literally felt the Spirit of Hopelessness wash over me when I opened the door. I’ve seen kids walking around in masks because the air is too polluted to breathe.

I have wept, laughed, danced, prayed, and laughed some more on five different continents.

As I think about the current state of the ever-beautiful United States, I am reminded that we are not invincible. There is pain everywhere. There is corruption everywhere. There is beauty everywhere. America is not invincible folks. Sometimes this reality comes in the form of a natural disaster. Or a family dog passing away. Sometimes it comes in the form of a flawed human elected to run our nation.

I know beloved and dear friends that have walked out of their doors this week and felt that Spirit of Hopelessness I felt in the AIDS clinic in Swaziland. I know beloved and dear friends that have wept over the current events and extreme fear of the future. But I do not know many beloved and dear friends that have gathered around food and wine and laughed like I laughed in Paris.

We aren’t invincible, beloved and dear friends. And we are in a time of realizing that, once again, on a very real level.

And I don’t know what to do about it. I’m a confused millennial that wants more for our country. I am an optimistic millennial that is hoping to change our country. But I’m also tired. Tired of fighting for things that should come naturally. Tired of fighting for the joy that I experienced on the back of a camel in the Gobi dessert. Tired of people getting killed for no reason, when I’ve seen toddlers die because they were born with AIDS.

I don’t know what to do, so I’ve decided to bask in the things I love about my life. I even forced myself to make make a list (enjoy), and hey, maybe you should do the same. Because we aren’t invincible, but we do hold power. We hold the power to love. Love so well that it compels change.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite things. Maybe you love them too and have just forgotten…

The first sip of piping hot black coffee in the morning.

The smell of a brand spankin’ new book.

Really cozy socks.

Fire #nopyro

A really excellent meal.

A good cold beer on a hot (or cold, who am I kidding) day.

Exchanging a wave and a smile with a stranger who lets me in traffic.

People who laugh REALLY loud and genuinely at the movie theater.

CLEAN SHEETS.

Reuniting with lifelong friends and picking up where we left off.

Porches. All types.

Stargazing.

Candy Corn.

Bassett Hounds.

The sound of a group of people singing at church when the instruments stop.

Finding something that I thought was forever lost.

Getting off a plane somewhere I haven’t been before.

Speaking of planes… getting bumped to first class.

Super cuddly babies and puppies (obvi).

Breakfast.

A hot dog at a baseball game (once I get over the fact that it’s going to cost a month’s rent…)

Twinkle lights.

Cute old people. (see picture below if you need more detail)

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Honestly, the list could definitely go on. But, are these the things I spend my time thinking about? No– if you saw my recent Google searches you would probably not want to be my friend… In the interest of full disclosure my last three searches were: 1) Who is Yoko Ono? 2) Are all baristas know-it-alls? 3) Who becomes the president if the president is assassinated before the inauguration?

All of this to say, remember what makes you happy. Stop dwelling on the negative. Eat candy corn. Drink good beer. Let someone in front of you in traffic. Take a selfie with a sleeping Mongolian granny for goodness sake.

We aren’t invincible, people…but I’m ready to accentuate the GOOD and spread it around because we need it. Amen?

Lizzy’s #imnotsorry Story

Written by: Lizzy who is a nurse, friend, and fellow recovery warrior alongside those here at Unpolished Journey.

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Hello World!

#imnotsorry for being me!

#imnotsorry for being different. I may not be your typical 25 year old according to my neighborhood and people my age and what they are doing with themselves. No, I am not employed full time at the moment, no I am not in a relationship, and no I am not married expecting my first child. And no, I am not out there every day destroying my body training for marathons anymore and I am not going to ashamed that instead I am taking care of my body. For awhile I was very ashamed of myself that I hadn’t met societal standards and I met “the ideal plan” I had for myself, of which were just societal standards imposed on me and me putting it up even one more notch to make things harder on myself.

I may not have those things going for myself, but not every 25 year old can say they went away to treatment for 6 months and had to put there life on pause and then had to come back and learn to relive in the world. Not every 25 year can say they went back to school to earn another bachelors degree in accelerated program all while continuing to see a therapist, dietitian, and psychiatrist. So, I’m done feeling sorry for myself for not meeting societal standards. I’m done being ashamed of my past, my past has shaped me into who I am today, it is has propelled me into a new career. It is allowing me to use my voice and grow in my spiritual journey, a spiritual path I did not have before and one that I love being on! #imnotsorry for my past! #imnotsorry for being a unique individual just learning to get by!

#imnotsorry for saying no and I am done explaining myself, from here on out in my life no means no. My voice matters, and just because I am a female doesn’t make me any less of a person, it doesn’t mean I can be walked over or that my voice can be dismissed. #imnotsorry for being who I am. Every part of me matters; it shapes me into who I am! Just because I am not a competing marathon runner anymore does not make me less of a person, just because I need more help in my day to day life than the next person does not mean I am weak and need to apologize for it! No, it means I am just trying my best and putting up a fight. #imnotsorry that I am not living the perfect recovery, I mess up, but I don’t give up. I get honest with my team and I try again to get back on track no matter how long it takes. I am working to become a new Lizzy, not one shaped by running and not one shaped by her eating disorder. #imnotosorry that I am feeding myself six times a days and saying no to things that make me uncomfortable!

I am learning to take care of myself and learning to accept myself for who I am, and society is not ok with that, then that is their issue not mine and I won’t apologize!