Last night, I was nominated at the blog Surviving the Unhinged and Clan for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which is “given to bloggers who are deemed to be creative, inspiring and positive while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.” The award requires answers to a series of questions, which are answered below. This is by far one of the most incredible things that has happened to me this year. I am truly humbled and honored that my words have had this impact.
When I started this blog three months ago, I didn’t know what I was doing nor did I expect anyone to really read it. I just knew I was tired of letting my ex-boyfriend define the narrative of what had happened to me in our relationship. I was also tired of being trapped by the inability to describe exactly what had been done to me and feeling isolated by the experience.
The whole thing has been a journey, but what I have found is that intellectually piecing together how and why he did what he did has been the most empowering thing I’ve done to date to recover. I’m passionate about sharing what has worked and what I’ve learned and am still learning, in case it will help anyone else, so I’m honored to have received this award and to know that my words have touched others in this way.
Thank you, searching for hope. Your blog was one of the first that I found when I started blogging, and it has been an inspiration to me.
My Answers to the Award Questions
What’s the most interesting place you have traveled to?
I think every place is interesting when I’ve been able to bring a curious and open mentality to the people, culture, lifestyle. The most interesting trip I’ve ever taken is to a place I’ve been seven or eight times. It was to New York City. It was interesting because the trip altered the course of my life. It was my second visit, and I went just after the recession started in 2009. I had lost all of my clients for the type of work I was doing at the time so I was out of work and didn’t know what I was going to do next with my life. I had always wanted to live in New York City or somewhere like it, but for family reasons had stayed in my home state which was in the south. On a whim, I booked a flight and got on a plane the next day and decided I was going to learn how people lived there, which probably sounds funny, but I couldn’t fathom things like how people shopped without a car and things like that. I’d never even seen a grocery store in the city. Did people just order in all the time or what? (kidding) So I stayed for almost three weeks, mostly in a 50 square foot room with a shared bathroom down the hall, and just wandered around observing things, learning all the streets and neighborhoods and how to use mass transit, and talking to people I met in bars. That trip changed my life. I returned home and applied to jobs in Washington D.C., got one two months later and never looked back. I haven’t owned a car in years. I own very few possessions and live in a space that is about a fourth of the size of the house I once owned. I love the comforting weight of the city’s roots, and the sounds of it outside my window; I love meeting people from all over the world. This is the lifestyle my heart always needed to live.
Who is your favorite author?
I know this is clichéd, but I’d have to say Stephen King. When I was eleven, I was staying at my dad’s house for Christmas Eve. I couldn’t sleep because I was really excited to wake up and open gifts. So my dad comes in and hands me Salem’s Lot and says, “Here this will keep your mind occupied.” It did.
Do you meditate?
Not regularly and not as much as I used to. I was saving up $600 to take a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) therapy course at a local university that my doctor recommended after I was having panic attacks. Then someone told me there is a donation-based version online with the exact same materials that had been created by a certified instructor and is self-paced. He created it for people who couldn’t afford the course or don’t have one in their community. I plan to do that now. If anyone is interested, here is the website.
What or who do you miss right now?
My old self. I miss how innocent I was before this relationship. But at the same time, I know that being that innocent wasn’t good for me, because look what happened… I don’t like having to know that there are people out there who are willing to rob people of that innocence. I don’t like having to give up part of myself to keep other parts of myself safe. Yet I remind myself of what I gained in the relationship in its place– the ability to love and trust someone that much, a deeper knowledge of myself, and a strength that I did not have before. So yeah, I miss that old self but I’m learning to love this one even more as I get more comfortable with it.
What song gets you out of a rut?
Any song where I know the words and can sing along to it! I love to sing– it’s my stress reliever. I participate sometimes in a competitive karaoke league and go to out to open karaoke on a regular basis with friends. Shoutout to Kostume Karaoke and District Karaoke!
Favorite type of vacation?
I love going to the beach! Most of my vacations have been to a beach destination in the Caribbean, so my goal in the next five years is to visit all of the remaining five continents I have never been to.
What’s the one thing you learned about you this year?
That my anxiety was sometimes affecting my interactions with other people. I was so used to being gaslighted, covertly and overtly put down, invalidated, etc. in conversations, that my brain started seeing it everywhere. That was bad because sometimes I was and sometimes I wasn’t, but I couldn’t always tell the difference and respond appropriately to the situation. I figured out I was doing that though and developed some guidelines for myself about how I would determine the difference and things are much better now. That has helped me get my own instincts back.
What motivates you to blog?
Hearing from other people that my posts help them. There’s a path, a mental journey, that I’ve taken and am still taking that has helped me and I want to illuminate it as much as I can. When I hear from people that what I have written was helpful, it’s like a feedback loop though. I am inspired, empowered and healed as well through talking to others.
Where were you born?
What was one of the best days of your life?
So many… I’m going to say my birthday two years ago. I think this was probably the best birthday I have ever had. The only thing that could have made it better was getting to see my family, but I got to talk to each of them on the phone. When the clock struck midnight and it became the day of my birthday, my friends toasted me. Then we went outside and one of my friends lit a Chinese lantern outside on the balcony while I made a wish and we let it go into the night air. The next day morning when I woke up, I went to get my hair done, a manicure and pedicure, and then went to have my make-up professionally done. My two best friends at the time gave me a new dress and jewelry that I could wear for the celebration that night. We went out to eat at a new restaurant I had always wanted to try. All my friends that I spent the most time with were there. We had champagne and I took pictures with each of them. Then we went to one of my favorite clubs where we had booked a table for the night and the first DJ I had ever seen live was performing, which was nostalgic. More of my friends came out to the club, even those who didn’t usually come out or listen to that kind of music. We all stayed up until about 8 in the morning. It was a perfect day.
What common misconception do you hate to hear repeated as fact?
Speaking very broadly, I think the one that really bothers me the most is the misconception that if someone is living in difficult circumstances, whether it’s poverty, homelessness, an abusive situation, or whatever, all they have to do is just get up and change it, like it’s that easy. What I’m getting at is how simplistic the ideology is behind this “wave a magic wand” mentality, no matter to which situation it is applied. In that mentality, there is no recognition of the vast number of physical, psychological, legal, financial, emotional or other factors that have to align like a Rubik’s cube in order for someone to change their entire lives that way and how long it actually takes. It’s not impossible, but someone can’t just “change” without a lot of things that have nothing to do with their motivation to do so.
- Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and make a link back to their blog.
- Answer the 11 questions sent to you by the person who nominated you.
- Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award, and then write them 11 new questions.
- List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.
My Eleven Questions for My Nominees
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- What three things are you the most grateful for?
- What is/was your favorite subject in school?
- If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
- What did/do you want to be when you grew up?
- If you were given one million dollars, what is the first thing you would do or buy?
- What was your favorite age so far?
- What is your favorite type of music?
- What is your favorite holiday?
- On which website do you spend the most time?
- What are three words to describe you?