Hi, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I took a break to gather myself. My tears have dried. After a couple of mopey days, I got up, washed my face, and in true Iris-fashion whipped out a notebook and pen. I got to work writing down how I felt and listing the choices I wanted to make.
The best choice I’ve made so far?
Instead of numbing, isolating, and avoiding, I chose to go on this journey sober. I’m stronger because of it. I believe that wholeheartedly. That speaks to how far I’ve come as a person. Not even a year ago, I would have drowned my sorrows and pain with bottles upon bottles of Cabernet and engaged in all kinds of risky and damaging behaviors because of it. Nope. Not this time. I’m older and wiser now. Alcohol does not fix anything. It does, however, give the opportunity to create more problems. No thanks. I chose to go to a new city so I wouldn’t fall back into the same toxic habits and friendships I used to rely on in Destin.
Next on my list?
Change, Self-Care, & Growth.
I concentrated on myself, the person that I tend to neglect the most. I made myself my priority. I am my own person. I bought my dream car and conquered driving stick again. I got my hair and nails done. I joined a CrossFit class (Groupon for the win). I bought a giant teddy bear that I named Mr. Buddy for warm hugs. I got massages and facials. I’ve stopped eating meat and drinking coffee (it makes me really anxious). I’ve started “eating clean” for the most part. I started taking good care of myself, instead of putting all of my energy into taking care of everyone around me. When I catch sight of my reflection now, I see the gorgeous girl I thought I lost. Everything about me is brighter, with or without makeup. I look and feel a lot younger. I don’t look exhausted or feel completely drained anymore. I feel beautiful and confident, like a new and improved version of myself. Iris 2: Electric Boogaloo. I wish I didn’t lose myself and forget how beautiful I am, inside and out. I won’t let that happen again. I’m so much stronger on my own than I ever believed I could be.
I also started going for early morning thirty-minute runs every day to clear my head. I went from struggling to get 2.5 miles without stopping to crushing 3.5 miles in about a week. I’m still going, and I’m proud of myself. I went to a music festival (like I had once challenged), danced my heart out, and met some awesome people. Festival people are, hands down, the best people. The best quote from my first EDC in 2016 was: Make sure you’re having more fun than the person next to you. The crowds and fireworks did not bother me at all this time, and no one groped me. I was having too much of a good time to let PTSD bother me. I did girly things like taking a ridiculous amount of posed pictures for the Gram (something I never do), wore makeup, and yell-sang along to every song I knew, just for the fun of it.
It dawned on me how many fun things I stopped doing because of all the misogyny I internalized over time by being in a hyper masculine environment. I didn’t want to get made fun of or teased meanly for enjoying things that I liked. Finally doing them felt good. Turns out there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking pictures of your food or posing a certain way because you look good at that angle. Do what makes you happy. I indulged in all the girly activities and didn’t feel self-conscious about them for once. I’ve decided to stop denying myself the things that I like now and in the future. Before EDC, I put myself out there, and joined a lot of Meetup groups. As a result, I’ve made some new friends that I feel comfortable around. It’s nice to be invited places and nice to be included. Surrounding yourself with good people really makes a difference. I even worked up the nerve to go on a date! It was actually fun!
Currently, I’m talking about all of this stuff and more in therapy. Seriously therapists are the unsung heroes of this world. Therapy is making this whole process much more manageable. I’m even improving my relationship with my parents. I’m building trust in myself and others again. There is a quote by Maya Angelou that my therapist shared to give me perspective in figuring out trusting others:
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
I am not one to argue with the Head Sister in Charge, may she rest in peace, so I wrote it on a sticky note on my bathroom mirror for a daily reminder. I’m also applying for jobs that I think would be fulfilling, regardless of how much they pay. Most of them involve helping people or animals. I want to do something in service of others in need. That speaks to my soul the most and would make me happiest. I’m also looking for an animal shelter so I can volunteer on the weekends. Keeping busy has become very important to me, because I have the opportunity to do it!
Soul searching trip.
Remember that book/movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back? Well, it’s inspiring this chapter of life called How Iris Got Her Groove Back. In a couple of days, I’m headed to the Bahamas by myself for some solitude, good food, and beach therapy. I’m packing nothing but swimsuits, books, sunblock, and my journal… okay, yeah, and dresses to go dancing. I forgot how much I loved to dance, even though I’m rhythmically challenged. I’ve missed so much about myself. Prior to EDC, I can’t remember the last time I did exactly what I needed when I needed it. I have a bad habit of putting my needs last. I used to run away from Destin and drive or fly to a different city whenever I needed a break. That was damn near impossible in Guam, and now I understand how much I needed that. This trip is about reclaiming the happy adventurous parts of my personality that went missing, building on my self-worth and love through me time, and plain ol’ moving on by figuring out where I want to go from there.
A funny thing happened when I got back to the States. I realized the low self-worth I felt in Guam was far from how I should have been feeling about myself. My older brother mentioned that the girl that got my previous phone number responded to his texts saying that her phone was blown up for months on end by people trying to reach me. I ended up texting her to apologize, and she sent me a bunch of screen shots.
It was a humbling moment. She complimented me, saying I must be a really sweet person if so many people were reaching out to find me the two years I was in Guam. I reconnected with many of them, and found to my surprise, that I was greatly missed and loved. I wasn’t the terrible person that loneliness led me to believe. An old friend said that he missed my light, and that I shouldn’t let anything dim it, because it inspired him. More people than I knew were rooting for my happiness because they knew I deserved it, even when I felt like I didn’t. I’m getting used to my phone ringing a lot with new and old friends and family checking in now, since it didn’t really ring much in Guam.
I know what I deserve now. I know my true value. I’m committing to living my truth and standing in the sun. I have always deserved honesty, kindness, happiness, and empathy. I deserve to be treated with fairness and respect. I deserve not to be called names, put down, and stonewalled. I deserve trustworthy people in my life. I deserve effort and feeling special. I deserve to feel comfortable and safe in my surroundings. I deserve a healthy relationship. All of this and more exists in the world that I used to perceive as cold and unforgiving. I’ve found those positive qualities internally. Now I have to embrace all the good that’s out there.
And that’s exactly what I’m about to do.