We Have To Feel It To Heal It


Why do we feel the need to hide our struggles and present ourselves as having our shit together? Why do any of us feel the need to appear more put together than we really are?

We are emotional creatures, and we were born to express emotions freely and openly. But somewhere along the way, many of us learned to repress our emotions in order to fit in, earn love, or to be accepted. We hide our struggles because we learned throughout childhood and adulthood that showing signs of struggle is a bad or uncomfortable thing.

As infants and toddlers, we didn’t hesitate to show signs of struggle. When we were tired, hungry, upset, or blew out our diapers 💩, we cried or threw tantrums to communicate that we needed help. As young children in school, we raised our hands and asked for help from our teachers if we didn’t understand something.

But at some point while growing up, we become conditioned to stop asking for help and we start to hide our struggles. We stop raising our hands in class because we’re told we ask too many questions. We stop asking our parents for help because they told us to figure it out for ourselves. Increased expectations from our family, friends, employers, and even ourselves feels like mounting pressure. We’re so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing that we paralyze ourselves and do nothing. We fear that negative response of not receiving help when we need it or our feelings being dismissed.

I grew up in a home where the motto was “Children are to be seen, not heard.” There was little emotional expression tolerated, let alone accepted. No one validated or helped me process difficult emotions in a healthy way. Anger was met with anger, fear went unacknowledged, and there was plenty of shame to go around. My parents didn’t model how to deal with difficult emotions, as they seemed to struggle with that themselves. When those emotions surfaced, I felt ashamed of my failure to be a “good girl.” Trying to hide the pain from others and myself, I built walls, put on masks, and soldiered on.

The truth is, we all hide our emotions occasionally. We pretend, avoid, and deny uncomfortable emotions as a defense mechanism. We do this most often with difficult emotions like guilt, shame, fear, or anger. When we experience events that emotionally overwhelm us and we’re unable to process what is happening, we hide them deep inside us where others can’t see them. And we end up hiding them from ourselves too. Yet, they’re still there. These unresolved emotions get trapped in our body where they build and fester. They drain our energy, which leads to burnout, and we become emotionally imbalanced. They undermine our overall wellbeing.

No matter what our struggles are, there are people who can and want to help. When we share our struggles with those around us, we give them permission to voice their struggles too. We may never know just how life changing that permission may be to someone. They may be feeling alone, overwhelmed, or even at the end of their rope, and we can help by giving them an opportunity to receive our understanding and support. The moment we make ourselves vulnerable, we give others permission to do the same.

The bottom line is, we’re human. We’re all imperfect and we all struggle. No one has their shit together all the time. No one has a perfect life and no one feels happy, confident, and positive all the time. Struggling is a normal part of life. We have to feel it to heal it.

40 Things I’ve Learned In My 40 Years of Life

They say “Another year older, another year wiser.” But are we really wiser? Wisdom comes from life experience. Life experience comes from learning from our mistakes and having the courage to take corrective action. Have I made mistakes in life? Boy howdy! But I’d like to think that I have gained some life experience and wisdom over the years. So without further adieu, here’s 40 things I have learned during my 40 years on this planet. Shout out to my blogging friend Brittany from mindbeautysimplicity for inspiring me with this post!

1. Not everything or every statement needs a response or reply.

2. Halloween and Spring Oreos taste better than regular Oreos.

3. It is very empowering to go into a restaurant, say “Table for 1,” and eat by yourself. I have done this several times, both locally and while traveling solo to Cancun, Mexico. I feel it makes you stronger and more confident.

4. It’s OK to ask for and to accept help.

5. Communication and comprehension go hand in hand. You can communicate to someone all you want but if they don’t understand you, it won’t reach them the way you need it to.

6. Nothing in life is permanent.

7. You don’t always receive in return what you give to others.

8. You’re never too old to eat chicken nuggets or to lick the spoon from cake batter, brownie batter, and cookie dough.

9. Expect the unexpected. I never expected to become disabled and unable to work at age 37, mais c’est la vie.

10. The best way to not touch my shit is to not touch my shit. Here’s a video tutorial on how to not touch my shit. https://youtu.be/IpCxZUrjImY

11. People aren’t paying attention to you as much as you think they are. We think that people care about what brand of clothes we wear, what car we drive, what job we have, or how we look in a bathing suit. But they don’t. We think everyone focuses on our awkwardness, insecurities, flaws, or nervous habits. But they don’t. We go through life as if our every move is being watched, judged, and evaluated by those around us. Here’s a reality check: you’re not that important. People couldn’t care less about what you do or how you look.

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

12. Fart and poop jokes don’t ever stop being funny! 💨💩

13. Everyone is replaceable. People tend to think “no one can do this like me” or “I can’t take off work because no one can do what I do.” But guess what? Employers don’t care. They WILL find another warm body to fill in or replace you in a hot second.

14. My taste buds change as I get older. I have started to like foods that I used to hate and on the flip side, some foods are too sweet for me to eat now.

15. It’s OK to make mistakes! Making mistakes is part of life and accepting responsibility for them helps us become a little more humble.

16. Quality is better than quantity.

17. Experiences mean more than material items. I used to place a lot of value on material items like designer purses, clothing, or home decor when I was younger. As I have gotten older, I value traveling, tending to my orchids and plants, learning new languages, and laughing my ass off with loved ones and friends. My favorite memories are from traveling to Norway and Costa Rica, $2 bowling nights with friends, and playing yahtzee with “dirty dirty” at Mommom’s house.

18. Time is money.

19. You are never too old to learn something new.

20. You can’t make everyone happy.

21. Antiperspirant clogs your armpit pores so now I only use deodorant.

22. Know when to pick your battles. Some arguments just aren’t worth your sanity, energy, and time. Being right isn’t nearly as important as knowing when to shut up and/or walk away.

23. Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs, who accept you for who you are, and who love you no matter what.

24. People don’t always get what they deserve and some people don’t deserve what they get.

25. Drinking hot chocolate out of my cupcake poot mug tastes better than out of a regular mug 😄

26. Comparing yourself or your life to others only leads to hurtful feelings.

27. There is no right way or time frame for grieving. We falsely assume that grief passes in chronological order. But it’s a tangled up mess that reawakens the shock we experienced on the day we lost our loved one. Our mind wants a quick fix to move on, but our heart never forgets.

28. You can’t help those who don’t want to help themselves and you can’t force anyone to change. No one changes unless they want to. Not if you beg them, shame them, use reason, or tough love. Someone changes only when they realize that they need to do it and when they decide they’re ready.

29. Screaming your guts out on a roller coaster ride is good for the soul.

30. You will end up doing things in life you thought or swore you’d never do.

31. A picture is worth 1000 words. It captures moments of pure joy, love, sadness, pain, and raw emotion.

32. Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes improvement.

33. Some people who are dying have a “last hurrah” shortly before they pass away. They are laughing, telling jokes, talking lucidly when previously incoherent, eating meals when they haven’t been eating for days, or even walking around when previously laying in bed sleeping most of the day. This “last hurrah” occurred with my grandfather, both of my grandmothers, and two different coworkers before they died.

34. There are many different ways people can do things and still end up with the same result. It doesn’t have to be your way.

35. The best way to conquer your fear is to just face it head on. Often times you will see it’s not as bad as you built it up in your mind.

36. Change is not a bad thing. It’s necessary for growth to occur. People have often said or written in yearbooks, “Don’t ever change.” But if no one changed, there would never be progress in life, education, or healthcare.

37. There are oodles of different types of peaches just like there’s different types of apples. I thought there were simply yellow and white peaches. I’ve discovered that I love Loring, Early Loring, Sentry, and Encore peaches. Nothin’ like slurping a ripe, juicy buttcrack peach! #badonkadonk

38. Things don’t always work out as you plan.

39. Life is a marathon not a sprint.

40. Music and food always bring people together.

There you have it folks! What are some things you have learned? Feel free to share some of your favorite life experiences 🙂

Do You Give Until It Hurts?

“I give and give and give, and what do I get? Nothing.” If you have ever muttered or thought these words, you probably gave until it hurt, bending over backwards trying to make others happy.

Growing up I believed that my virtue and worth lied in my ability to take care of those around me. If I did a good job then everyone around me would be happy. I saw my grandmother meet this standard to a T. She put everyone else before herself and never wanted to be a bother to anyone.

As a kid, I was taught how to care for others. I got a lot of practice caring for my younger sister, especially when she was an infant because we shared a bedroom together. I would feed her, change her, and give her a pacifier when she cried in the middle of the night. As a teenager, I would pull weeds from neighbor’s gardens and driveways, or babysit the children at church during potluck dinners and events. I was determined to never leave anyone high and dry. Family, friends, and coworkers knew that I was dependable and could be counted on when they needed me.

One thing about giving to others is that it makes us feels good… until it doesn’t. When helping people starts to feel more exhausting than joyful, you might be inclined to keep giving more. Some people believe that the more you give to others, the more you will receive in return from them. But this is often not the case. You may end up feeling isolated and disappointed because you aren’t getting as much in return as you are giving to others. You end up putting yourself on the back burner and giving to everyone but yourself.

If you always say yes to everyone who needs your help, then saying no can be extremely difficult; especially if you have been conditioned to wrap your self worth up in pleasing others. We often sacrifice ourselves in order to help others and we tend to feel guilty if we put ourselves first.

Your self-worth is determined by how much love and care you direct toward yourself, not others. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to anticipate your needs and take care of you. This leads to assumptions and you know what happens when you assume. You make an ass out of u and me. 😁

Part of taking care of yourself is being nice to yourself. Stop talking down to yourself. If you wouldn’t do it or say it to someone else, vow to never do it or say it to yourself. There is no glory in disparaging yourself. Sacrificing your wellbeing because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings is not an act of humility. Your feelings and needs matter as much as anyone else’s, but you can only honor them if you recognize and prioritize them.

Cop A Feel

Who wants to cop a feel? No I’m not talking about fondling boobies. But I will admit to mine getting manhandled last week at my first mammogram. It wasn’t that bad though. Lots of pressure but no pain. Enough about my boobs. I’m actually referring to feeling annoyed by our loved ones. I know, sort of a taboo subject because no one likes to openly admit to feeling this way. Whether it’s our spouse, family members, partner, friends, or coworkers, do you ever find yourself feeling irritated by EVERY. LITTLE. THING they say or do?

Nurturing our relationships requires time, attention, and effort. In the early stages of a romantic relationship, we’re ALL ABOUT the other person and see only the best in them. We’re drunk in love. We don’t see the less wonderful qualities that might annoy us later on. But then time passes by, and it’s easy to become complacent until we are no longer appreciating and truly connecting with those closest to us.

When we constantly complain about our loved ones, all we see are their flaws. Annoying little things, which might not have bothered us before, can become quite perturbing. These feelings can snowball until your loved one’s habits drive you bat shit crazy. If you think about it, anyone can become really irritating if we only focus on their flaws and annoying behaviors.

Small things such as not calling or texting me when they said they would, interrupting me when I am talking, or not putting their dirty drawers in the hamper have become bigger issues. I found myself forgetting about the loving and caring things they did and instead focusing on my disappointment and irritation. I would focus on what was wrong in my relationships until all I could see were the problems, not the people. These feelings can chip away at the intimacy and joy in any relationship. If it continues for long enough, it can feel like your relationship is stuck in a rut or it might break altogether.

I have a tendency to expect too much from certain people in my life. I have high standards for myself and often expect others to hold themselves to similar standards. I don’t aim for perfection but I do strive for progress. We are fallible human beings after all, so we can never achieve perfection. Although I don’t expect my loved ones or myself to be perfect, I sometimes find it difficult to accept their flaws and mine.

Fairy tales, movies, TV shows, and social media all contribute to painting this picture of a perfect life. These unrealistic expectations often lead to a lot of disappointment, and can be a huge threat to relationships.

Not one single person or relationship on the face of this planet is perfect. We set ourselves up for disaster when we expect our loved ones to read our minds, understand all of our emotions (even when we don’t understand them ourselves,) or to always make us happy. These pressures are just unrealistic.

When I was younger, I expected people to know why I was mad or why my feelings were hurt without even telling them. Looking back now, it was like I expected them to have this superpower that didn’t exist.

We often look for happiness outside of ourselves and expect other people to make us happy. But the truth is, the only person who can make you happy is you. Happiness lies within you. It’s not somewhere out there. Ultimately, you are not responsible for other people’s happiness and they are not responsible for yours.

Good relationships thrive on respect, support, trust, and patience. There will be times of sorrow and triumph, peace and chaos, and conflict and joy. Relationships do of course change over time, but that doesn’t mean they have to change for the worse. The first sign of a problem does not mean the relationship isn’t good. We need to remember that we are all imperfect human beings just trying to do our best.

Wish It Want It Do It

If you follow influencers on social media telling you to hustle, it might inspire you to read “Wish It, Want It, Do It” and use the blank pages to start mapping out your grandiose plans. 😁

While you’re riding this wave of motivation, you’ll probably jot down some monumental aspirations that will paint a picture of a life so exciting that you can’t wait to get after it. But when your alarm goes off at 4:30am and you try to roll out of bed, reality slaps you in the face.

Instead of being motivated to jump out of bed and tackle your goals, you feel a wall of internal resistance. You want to hustle. You know you need to get up and go after it. But you can’t seem to muster up the discipline to actually do anything.

So instead, you choose the path of least resistance. You stay nestled up in your warm toasty bed and decide that you’re going to start fresh tomorrow. One more day won’t hurt anything, right? One day turns into two, two days turn into a few weeks, and the weeks turn into months. Several months later you feel another wave of motivation and decide to try all over again. Many people find themselves unable to get off this proverbial hamster wheel.

Why is it that we continually set Mount Everest size goals and don’t accomplish them? You might ask yourself “Is there something wrong with me? Am I a failure?” So how do you stop this vicious cycle? What’s the best way to facilitate lifestyle changes that you can actually stick with?

When setting big goals, we tend to place more focus on the outcome we want to achieve instead of the lifestyle changes needed to get there. We have this inner pull to be consistent with who we’ve always been. Old habits die hard, which is why big goals can be so hard to accomplish. True behavior change comes when you commit to small, consistent shifts in your daily behavior.

When setting goals, people ask themselves “What do I want to achieve?” This places the focus solely on the outcome. The idea of focusing on lifestyle changes is that your success is not tied to arbitrary targets.

Let’s say that you set a goal to lose twenty pounds in four months. As you pursue this goal, you start exercising 4 days a week, eating more vegetables, and limiting desserts. After four months of these lifestyle changes, you step on the scale and you’ve lost fifteen pounds.

Did you achieve your goal of losing twenty pounds? Noop. You’re five pounds short. Damn! Now you feel like shit because you failed to meet your goal. 😞 But what if your goal was to become a healthier person? Did you achieve that goal? Hell yeah ya did!

Too often we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. True behavior change is the product of small, incremental changes compounded over time. We tend to dismiss the effectiveness of small actions because they don’t make an immediate visible impact. But once small habits are solidified into your daily life, you’ll be a stronger version of you.

Badass Warrior Queen

Badass women are not raised in comfort. We are not formed with ease and grace. We are made of fire and storms. We are made of the stuff that should have broken us but didn’t. -Brooke Hampton

I am often asked “How do you do it?” Or I am told “I don’t know how you do it,” or “I don’t know what I would do if I were in your shoes.” But the truth is, you could do it too. I don’t have superhuman powers. I put my underwear and pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. Living with multiple rare medical conditions can be as hard for me as you imagine it might be for you. I wasn’t automatically given the knowledge and strength to cope with this situation.

Some days it’s hard. REALLY HARD. There are constant days of doctor appointments, breathing treatments, medication pick ups, insulin adjustments, ensuring I have enough medical supplies, not to mention the hours spent on the phone correcting medical billing errors and answering emails to keep my doctors updated.

I know better than to compare myself to others, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it feels like a kick in the nards watching other people do normal daily activities. It’s hard not to think of all the things I “should be” doing. I “should be” working, I “should be” running errands, I “should be” cleaning, I “should be” exercising. Day to day stuff often gets pushed aside. If I sit still, there is something that isn’t getting done in that moment, and I know it. And sometimes I feel guilty about it.

I don’t get out much and I don’t have visitors often. Friendships and relationships can be hard to develop and maintain when so much of my life revolves around my medical care. That doesn’t mean I don’t long for those connections, though. I am thankful for the people who join in and are a part of my world.

I see people traveling for vacation and I can’t. I miss that. I see people spending their days outside enjoying the beaches and parks and I can’t. I miss that. People are able to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others and I can’t. People are starting to resume all the freedom their healthy lives provide and I can’t. Not yet. Life can be overwhelming and emotional. My mind, heart, and body get tired at times. I won’t let that stop me though.

I am reminded that this is my journey and there are milestones to celebrate. For the first time in over a year I was able to enjoy dinner out in a restaurant. This is really special for me because it shows just how much progress my health is making, especially where I was just on the ventilator in the ICU exactly 2 months ago.

It’s still an adjustment living with and managing multiple medical conditions. It’s a lot of work that is time and energy consuming. Sometimes I have to remind myself to shift my perspective. Life is too short to waste it moping about the hand of cards I have been dealt. So cheers to turning 40 and accepting that even though I Look WAY different on the outside (thank you effin prednisone 🙄), I am still the same feisty, resilient, and badass warrior queen that I always have been 😁

Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop

Your day is going along a little too well and you don’t trust it. You just know something bad is going to happen. And then the shit hits the fan. Right on cue. 🙄 I refer to this as the fuckening. Some people call this “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” It can be disheartening to feel like we can’t catch a break.

I will be the first to admit that I expect a fuckening WAY too often. If I have been out of the hospital for a while, I start to worry about how I am likely to end up back in the hospital at an inopportune time. If we have plumped up our savings, I wonder if we’ll have an unexpected large expense that will reduce our nest egg. If we have a car or home repair to make, I expect something else to break needing repair or replacement, If I am flying on an airplane and I pee right before boarding the plane,I just know that I am going to have to pee again when the drink cart is blocking the way to the toilet.

Life changes constantly and there is a rhythmic dance between joy and pain. In one moment our situations can shift so drastically that we feel like we’re falling ass over teakettle. Expecting that every day will be wonderful and flawless is both naive and unrealistic. But anxiously awaiting some sort of tragedy is not beneficial to our wellbeing either.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop is this tricky way of depriving ourselves from feeling good now because we are nervously anticipating something bad will happen in the future. It’s almost as if we are inviting something negative into our life to neutralize the positive feelings. Life will bring cycles of suffering and beauty, pain and happiness, crisis and comfort. We do our best while riding these waves of feelings, trying not to get stuck in a pattern of overwhelming stress.

So can we avoid the chaos? Noop. Not a chance in hell. But here are some techniques to help quiet the nagging voices that suggest disappointment is lurking around the corner.

Realize that worrying is pointless

We need to accept that we can’t possibly prepare for all potential situations. There are umpteen thirty-leven possible challenges that could happen in life at any given moment and there is no way to anticipate all of them. Don’t waste your time worrying about “What ifs.” Time is nonrefundable. Use it with intention.

Stop downplaying yo’ self

When you downplay your own accomplishments and abilities, you are perpetuating the belief that something negative is going to happen. You don’t want to brush off your victories as “being lucky” or “they’re no big deal” when you put in the hard work. Instead of worrying about whether or not you are good enough, start trusting in yourself and believe that you have what it takes.

Focus on the present

The beauty of being present is that, by definition, you can’t be anywhere else. When you choose to be in the moment, thoughts about possible bad things happening in the future may enter your mind, but you can kick their asses to the curb.

Be Logical

Sometimes our thoughts can run away from us, going full steam down a hill that we know isn’t logical or helpful. Learning to accept that sometimes life is uncomfortable can reduce the fear of the unknown.

Our lives are in flux and it is inevitable that something unfortunate will happen at some point. We don’t know when or where, but worrying about things won’t make them go right.

Purgatory of Indecision

Sometimes in life there is a pivotal moment when you know that you just can’t keep going on the way you’ve been living. Something’s got to give and you have two options: shit or get off the pot. Choosing between making a change or staying where you are can feel daunting, so you find yourself trapped between the two, in a purgatory of indecision.

The prospect of change requires us to take an honest look at ourselves and do things we might be afraid to do. We have to take a leap into uncharted waters, unsure if we’ll sink or swim. This can easily entice us to stay in our comfort zone. But if we can’t bring ourselves to change, we risk living a life of misery, dysfunction, or regret. You may feel like you can’t stay where you are, but you’re too afraid to move forward. You remain stuck in this purgatory of indecision.

As a teenage girl and into my twenties, my plan was to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. I started working as a pharmacy technician a few months after graduating from high school and continued this while going to college. After I completed all the prerequisite courses, I applied to a few pharmacy schools. Imagine my surprise and utter disappointment when I read rejection letter after rejection letter. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t accepted. I had excellent grades, a good PCAT score, and pharmacy experience. It seemed unfair. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Why wasn’t I good enough to be accepted? How could I have failed? What in the hell am I going to do with my life now? I had busted my hump for years to meet my goal of becoming a pharmacist and now it was being flushed down the shitter.

One of the pharmacy schools I had applied to sent my information to the University of Maryland Department of Medical and Research Technology, so they sent me information about their program. When I read through it and saw Blood Banking as a specialty, I had that “Aha!” moment. I had a special interest in Blood Banking after I needed a blood transfusion during surgery to straighten my curved spine in 2004.

I was still working as a pharmacy tech after getting rejected by multiple pharmacy schools and saw the direction the pharmacy profession was going in. I didn’t like that insurance companies dictated so much of patient care. They’ll cover one type of insulin but not another similar insulin. They won’t pay for this asthma medication but they’ll pay for an alternative. And they change their mind every year on what list of medications they choose to cover. I don’t believe an insurance company knows better than a patient’s doctor what medication works best for the patient.

So what do I do now? Do I keep trying to apply to other pharmacy schools or pivot and apply to med tech school? I decided to get off the pot and apply to med tech school. It provided the same reasons I wanted to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. Plus, I had this personal connection with Blood Banking after my blood transfusions. I was both excited and relieved when I was accepted into the program and worked as a Blood Banker for 11 years after graduation.

The purgatory of indecision is an awful place to be. It is fraught with doubt, shame, anger, and overwhelming amounts of fear. Despite that, sometimes it still isn’t enough to push us in a particular direction. Our fear acts as a dysfunctional voice that eventually grows louder and can become the only one that you hear. Fear, along with self-doubt, whispers “you’re not good enough” or “you can’t do anything right.” It may even convince you that you’re inadequate, unlovable, or a failure. It can feel like there is a constant tug of war going on inside of you.

If we choose to not listen to that dysfunctional voice, then we can subdue it. When it says we aren’t good enough, we can choose to believe that we are enough. When the voice tells us we can’t do anything right, we can choose to know that we are doing the best we can and that is always right. When that pesky voice taunts us with feelings of inadequacy or failure, we can choose to have trust in our own potential. And when the dysfunctional voice tries to convince us that we are unlovable, we can decide that we are worthy of love.

We don’t have to remain stuck in unsatisfying situations. And we don’t need to make big changes all at once in order to live fulfilling lives. Change can be scary and uncomfortable as fuck. But small shifts can lead to huge transformation over time. The way out of the purgatory of indecision is to simply get started and to keep on going.

Tell That To Your Face

“How are you?” “I’m fine.” We say it all the time. It’s short and sweet. Like strawberry shortcake. But far too often it’s not true. It’s written all over our faces that we’re not actually fine. I don’t know about you, but my face ALWAYS gives away that I am not okay even if I say I am.

So why do we say “I’m fine” if we don’t really mean it? We want others to think everything is working out great for us because we’re afraid of the shame, embarrassment, and judgment that might come if people knew that we don’t have our shit together.

We’re hoping to convince ourselves and others that everything really is okay. But pretending that we don’t have any problems, difficult emotions, or conflicts is a façade. It seems easier to simply avoid certain problems, traumatic memories, and difficult feelings. However, avoidance isn’t a good long-term strategy for our well being. Often, the longer we try to ignore things, the bigger the problems become. So, why do we deny our problems or pretend to be okay when we’re not?

We pretend to be fine in order to avoid conflict. We fear that by sharing our true feelings or opinions, someone might get upset with us. This can create anxiety or at least feel uncomfortable. We use “I’m fine” to shield ourselves from painful emotions. Many of us grew up in households where we weren’t allowed to express our feelings of anger or sadness. We were told “I’ll give you something to cry about,” “suck it up,” or “get over it.” We were punished when we expressed our feelings or our feelings were ignored. As a result, we learned to suppress our emotions.

We also deny our problems and feelings because sometimes they’re overwhelming. We don’t always know how to articulate what we feel or how to solve our problems, so we try to ignore them. We don’t want to be difficult or to be a burden to others because we fear that might push people away. It feels safer to pretend we’re fine and to be a dependable coworker, cheerful friend, or a laid-back partner who doesn’t complain.

I’d rather be honest and authentic and disappoint some people than to exhaust myself trying to keep up the façade of perfection.” -Crystal Paine

If you’ve ever felt like you had to hold it together in order to put up a front for others, just know there is freedom in expressing your true feelings. Many people put on a proverbial mask to avoid showing their vulnerability and potentially making others feel uncomfortable. If you’re not accustomed to opening your heart to people, start by sharing one thing you’re thinking or feeling but may be tempted to keep inside. Opening up to others will allow you to be yourself, and from there you’ll see who’s willing to accept what you have to say without judgment. You can also offer support to others and let them know you’re happy to listen with an open ear. Giving people room to share pieces of themselves lets them know you’re there for them and they can be honest with you.

Many times when we avoid sharing our feelings with others, it’s because we haven’t processed our emotions. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, without judgment, and learn to recognize when you’re lying to yourself. Stop telling yourself you’re “fine” when you’re not. Keep it real. You’re not going to be honest with others if you’re not being honest with yourself.

We tend to beat ourselves up when we do not respond, act, speak, or think how others believe we should. We put pressure on ourselves to meet everyone else’s expectations without truly acknowledging our own needs. It’s a heavy burden to hide behind a mask and pretend that everything is hunky-dory. There’s power in being vulnerable and sharing your authentic self with others. You don’t have to hide, pretend, or feel bad about not always being positive. You’re not weak, you’re human, and you never have to apologize for that.

Rare Disease Day

Many of you know that I live with 2 rare conditions: Hereditary angioedema and Mast cell disease. They aren’t pretty and they aren’t flattering. But they are real.

I haven’t wanted to take or show many pictures of myself because of how different I look. I don’t recognize myself and sometimes I feel embarrassed by my appearance. I was afraid of being judged by others the way I have been judging myself.

But since today is Rare Disease Day and it’s about spreading awareness, I am sharing some unpretty, unflattering, but real pictures of me living with these conditions.

Hereditary angioedema of my tongue
Hereditary angioedema of my belly
Treatment I have to inject myself any time I have swelling
Intubated/on the ventilator in November 2019 due to throat swelling
Swollen face and cataracts from prednisone. This was right after cataract surgery earlier this month.