Top 20 for 2020

Adulting, Mental Health

I don’t do super specific resolutions, because I feel like I am ever-changing and mid-year or every week I could come up with a new goal ya know? We shouldn’t limit our goals, dreams, or desires to just once a year, BUT with a lot of reflection on last year…I do have 20 short, but sweet tid-bits I’d love to do, accomplish, see or learn.

  1. Put down the Netflix, pick up some more Brene Brown
  2. Remind myself that I am good at what I do
  3. Understand that 26 is NOT old
  4. SAVE SAVE SAVE that mula
  5. Go to Vegas for my bachelorette partayyy
  6. Actually utilize my barre membership meaning 3+ times a week
  7. Continue to learn how to love every single part of my body
  8. This is a tough one for me…but have a little less care about what others think
  9. Know that it’s okay to not have myself completely figured out yet & find contentment knowing that I may never completely “figure myself out.”
  10. Give more compliments to others
  11. Give more compliments to myself
  12. Get paid collaborations with companies I whole heartedly love
  13. Work with local organizations that help abuse survivors
  14. REMEMBER THAT I DONT HAVE TO DO IT ALL RIGHT NOW OR THIS YEAR
  15. Continue to give my all to my students & host 2 more successful recitals
  16. Go somewhere warm with my sweetie and celebrate our marriage
  17. Clean my car more often (Kyle will appreciate this one)
  18. Visit my bff across the pond
  19. Start to plan my next trip to Australia
  20. Finally….have the most beautiful, romantic wedding EVER!!! 😉

I might not crush all of these and I will most likely revert back to old behaviors occasionally or forget to prioritize my mental health, because that’s life. I’m human. Make sure if you set goals or if you want to accomplish that HUGE dream this year that you also give yourself some grace and patience. It might not happen the way you want it to. Something unforseen may occur, but don’t be too hard on yourself! Happiness is an accumulation of doing the next right thing NOT doing everything all at once and working yourself to death.

Hope your 2020 is a year where you can love every piece of you and for those that are hurting, just know your broken pieces can be placed back together and YOU WILL feel whole again.

Much love,

T

Trauma

Mental Health

My gosh, have I been having some DEEP conversations lately. I don’t know if the wine nights or hot summer days spark something inside of me that make me question everything, but I. am. questioning. everything. Most of the recent convos have been surrounding trauma, shame, regret, spirituality, and forgiveness.

It seems like each of my friends have something in their life that they are currently dealing with that is a BIG deal. I just keeping thinking….when did our lives become so damn complicated? It’s like you hit your mid twenties and realize that this life is fricken crazy, it is nothing like you thought it would be, and literally not one person has it figured out. On the flip side, how nice is it that I have a group of friends who aren’t afraid to dive into the deep stuff, like the REAL deep stuff!  Find yourself a group like that!

I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately. Just not 100%. It seems like I always struggle in the summers and I think it has to do with a lack of structure. I need structure, but hate it at the same time. I also have realized that life was so busy these last couple years with the start of an amazing relationship, opening a dance studio, moving, and everything in between that I kind of put my past in a little box and stuffed it in the basement, so it wouldn’t come out again. Well…you guessed it…the box apparently wasn’t sturdy enough, because BOOM I feel myself re-living and dissecting trauma all over again. Have I not worked through it enough or at all? Am I “over it?” Will my mental health be a life-long battle?

Some of you may be wondering…wait, what trauma? Am I missing something here? In another blog post in the near future I will be sharing more of my story that most don’t know, because truthfully I didn’t know it was trauma or wrong until recently. I was sexually abused multiple times in college by a handful of men. For many years, like 6 years, I thought it was my fault. After all, I was drunk and promiscuous right? I put myself into those situations. I brought myself to those parties. I drank way too much and way to often. I didn’t respect myself. I literally did NOT care what happened to me. I gave men what they wanted, because at that point I was a hollow shell of a human being. Within that time my abusive ex entered the picture and most of you know how that ended up. More trauma.

I thought I had hidden that away, and most people in my “new” life don’t see that old person at all. I almost feel guilty for being able to start over and within the last week, I discovered that I don’t think I’ve forgiven her. I don’t think I’ve let her heal. I discovered that there’s a small piece of me that I still believe is used trash. I don’t know if I view myself the way others do. I’ve covered up, and carried on. That apparently only works for so long, and then BOOM it’s like my brain gets hijacked and the old me creeps in, nudges me, and says, “you still don’t respect yourself. Why don’t you just drink your trauma and pain away…that’s easier. Why don’t you go ahead and make some more mistakes, just because it feels good.”

I decided that I will not self-sabotage and I will not minimize or hide my trauma anymore. I will deal with it and get the help I need. I’ve decided to seek out some counseling and the reason I’m writing this is because this shouldn’t be “shocking” or “taboo!” This is normal! Therapy is normal, or should be! Kyle, bless his heart, said, “I didn’t know it was THIS bad.” He was super concerned when I opened up to him, and I told him it isn’t THAT bad, but it shouldn’t have to get to that point. I’ve noticed some behaviors within myself that make me think I need to talk to somebody about the things I’ve been through. Simple as that. There should be no shame there and it shouldn’t have to get BAD before someone reaches out and says, “Yeah, I need a little help.”

I also am starting a life completely away from my family, and this is a whole other blog topic in and of itself, but this is fricken hard you guys! I already feel like I’m floundering through life at times, just trying to manage it all, attempting to be an adult in this world. On top of that, I don’t have my family. It brings tears to my eyes even mentioning them and so I just don’t think about it. I stuff that down too. I would love to chat with a professional about ways to cope with that!

Ultimately, I want to be the best wife and mother that I possibly can be, and I believe that if I start or continue on the journey of healing I will be a lot better off for myself and for my future family. I am thankful for the support of my family, my friends, and my love. Sometimes we might need just a little more than that, and that is okay! 

I challenge you all to open your hearts to healing. I don’t know what that looks like for you and may not be counseling, but being a little more transparent and authentic with how we are actually feeling can make a huge difference. Let’s be the generation that doesn’t stuff it down! 

Much love,

T

 

See Ya Later Self-Doubt

Mental Health

Lately, the self-doubt has been eating me alive. I mean, when isn’t it really? In a world where we see everyone else’s successes around us all the time, it’s hard to not compare yourself…DAILY! But, my self-doubt is more centered specifically on my newish business venture with Beautycounter. When it comes to owning, instructing, and choreographing at my studio, I feel confident most of the time. After having almost two years under my belt, I’m feeling comfortable and fully equipped as I continue learning and growing.

Beautycounter has been different. At my studio, I can see results every day in the way my dancers’ grow, in the way my parents communicate with me, and I get a huge sense of accomplishment when watching my students succeed on stage at competitions and recital. With Beautycounter it can be very hit or miss. I will post about a certain product and I will get a ton of feedback as well as some sales. On the other hand, I can run a week-long event that I thought I promoted effectively and achieve no sales at all.

As I watched all the managing directors learning and being rewarded for their hard work at the L.E.A.D conference in Phoenix, AZ I couldn’t help but feel left out and a sense of self-doubt. Am I doing enough to be able to get their next year? Am I effectively spreading my knowledge of safer beauty? Why do people feel the need to judge “businesses like this?” Why am I letting those people, who know nothing about the Beautycounter business, paralyze my progress?

Some judgemental people are actually really close to me and it hurts, honestly. It hurts that they can’t be supportive and they don’t prioritize safer options, but I have to be okay with that. Everyone’s journey and priorities are different and that’s why being human is so fun. Everyone’s got something to teach and something to learn. I find that I also create fictional people in my head. I think that people are going to judge me for trying my best to use safer options. I feel like they think I’m a dramatic or I need to “relax” or “everything causes cancer, so who cares.” These “what-ifs” flow through my mind way too often.

Caring about people is such a dichotomy. On one hand, I care about the way people perceive me, because I never want to offend or push anyone too far. On the other hand, the reason I started my Beautycounter adventure was BECAUSE I care so deeply for people and I want them all to be free from harmful chemicals, so they may live long and feel amazing! I want everyone to be their BEST SELVES!

The toughest thing for me has been people not understanding that Beautycounter isn’t like the other hundreds of multi-level marketing companies out there. In fact, we are not considered multi-level marketing at all. We’re a direct retail company, meaning we offer a product through multiple channels including a network of independent consultants, through our e-commerce web sites and through strategic partnerships. We are structured like any other company. There are teams with team leaders that help coach and mentor us. I am currently a mentor to one person who happens to be my beautiful mother and she can absolutely surpass me if she outperforms me.

The thing is, my job isn’t to convince every single person that Beautycounter is an amazing company. My job is to be a safer beauty advocate and this role, for me, is bigger than just my Beautycounter business. It’s not just about selling our safe products. It’s about creating change and regulations in an industry that hasn’t changed anything in over 80 years! It’s starting the process of regulations, so that my children wont have to worry about toxic chemicals. Why can we go into a store right now and buy basic beauty products that are filled with fragrance that cause irritation and allergies? Fragrance isn’t regulated by the FDA. It could be composed of 3,000+ stock chemical ingredients! Why can we buy shampoo, body wash, and foundation that’s filled with parabens that can alter hormone mechanisms in our body? Why can we buy lipsticks, diapers, and creams that are packed with BHA and BHT? These are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and could cause liver damage! AHH! And that’s not all!

Why is it that the U.S. bans only 11 chemicals when places like Europe are banning thousands? 11. Really? We should be questioning this and we should be passionate about this. 

All-in-all my passion and the people who support me will be my focus, and the rest I will simply not have time for. I will grow this through this journey with a full heart and by always staying true to myself.

Much Love,

T

P.S. Thank YOU so much to those who supported my business throughout the 15% off sale! Wow, it was amazing how many of you decided to start or continue your safer beauty journey. Love that you are prioritizing your health!

Cloudy with a Chance of Anxiety

Mental Health

My mind has been cloudy lately. I’m having trouble focusing and I feel scattered. I’m feeling overwhelmingly discontent. Some questions that have popped up recently are…Who am I? What do I want to tell the world? What are the main goals when growing my business? How much time do I put into my new side business? How much focus do I put on bettering myself behind the scenes versus continuing to expand my online presence? What is my purpose?

For the first time in my life, I’m realizing that I might struggle with anxiety. Not just situational nervousness or an uneasy stomach, but I’m starting to notice a substantial increase of symptoms. The fogginess, racing thoughts, fatigue, etc. At times, I feel like I’m going to literally black out. I’m short of breath, my chest gets tight, and it’s like I want to jump out of my own skin. It’s scary, but sometimes I question myself….Am I being overdramatic? What is “real” anxiety versus normal life stress? What if I’m just not doing enough to take care of myself? I could easily work on my spirituality.  I work out 3-5 times a week, but I could work out more. I do yoga a couple of times a month. Should I do it everyday? I listen to a few meditations monthly, but not daily. I definitely could eat more vegetables instead of a whole row of Thin Mints (Thanks, Girl Scouts). Also, is it just my hormones? Sometimes I feel crazy and I wonder if it’s just a thing us women go through. After I start thinking about all the things I SHOULD be doing to manage my anxiety, I get even more stressed out! It’s a vicious cycle!

I can’t begin to describe how difficult this is to admit to my readers, but also to myself. This is a new development for me and I’m not even sure what’s going on mentally, but I know that writing it down is a step in the right direction. Frankly, I’m embarrassed and I figured if I’m embarrassed then there has to be other individuals who feel the same way. The best way to help the stigma of depression, anxiety, addiction and so on…is to talk about it, right? I think so!

Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the U.S. That’s 18.1% of the population every year! Only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment (ADAA, 2018). I’m not sure exactly what constitutes as “treatment.” But, to me, that means that less than half the people who struggle with anxiety are taking steps to help themselves. That leads me to believe that a vast amount of those people probably aren’t talking about it openly either. I guarantee most individuals are walking around thinking that their anxiety is just “part of life” and “life is hard.” Does it have to be though?

Why are we so anxious? 

 

There’s no one answer to that question and anxiety is caused by a variety of factors; environmental, genetic, and our brain chemistry all play a role. BUT, I’ve noticed a trend recently, in my own life and others, that is bound to affect people’s mental well-being and that is we are a society of “provers.” Let me PROVE that I’m a good worker. Let me PROVE that I’m a great parent. Let me PROVE that I’m a fun time, but also still dedicated. Let me PROVE to you that I’m unique, but also still able to coexist with others. Watch me accomplish all my goals and I’ll PROVE to you that I’m finally worth something! The world of social media has exacerbated this issue ten fold. Ironically, as I’ve really rumbled with myself (rumbled is a term I stole from Brene Brown-check her work out), I’ve realized that social media has been a huge part of my heightened anxiety this last year. I run my dance studio social media accounts, personal accounts, and now I have added more accounts and online events/promotions for Beautycounter. I think I need a whole planner just to schedule my social media posts (mmm…not a bad idea). I’m realizing that the more I try to connect through my phone, the more I’m trying to PROVE myself, and the more unhappy I become. It’s frustrating, because I love this new venture I’ve started and I truly love that social media can connect people to my businesses, but it is making me SO disconnected from my relationship and my mental health.

Some of you may be thinking that this isn’t you. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone and you are comfortable with who you are and the choices you make. Kuddos to you! I hope to have that enlightenment sooner than later, but I think for a lot of people, especially those of us who are just starting our adult lives, feel the need to PROVE ourselves. Every. Dang. Day.

I listened to a Youtube stream my mom sent me the other day. I’m going to drop it below, so you all can take a listen if you so choose. The speaker is Esther Hicks, and honestly when I first listened to her, I thought her concepts were a little out there. She was using verbage I wasn’t real familiar with. She speaks of the vortex and universe quite often. I promise, she is NOT an alien. Her words might be unique, but her messages are quite simple. In the video below she discusses the need to prove ourselves. She tells a story about herself and how she discovered that she “never had anything to prove anyway” and she “was worthy without the struggle.” She let herself “know her own goodness” and that she “was a good person anyway!” Wait, WHAT?

Those words struck me like a lightning bolt. My first thought was, “why the hell am I working so hard to prove myself in literally every single area of my life when I am already enough?” I feel like this anxiety that I’ve been struggling with has a lot to do with my own insecurities, and my need to please and be without flaws. I have to PROVE that I’m an amazing dance studio owner. I have to PROVE that I’m an adequate head coach. I have to PROVE that I can be successful with Beautycounter. I have all these dreams, things to learn, places to go, people to educate, and I just want them all to happen now, now, now and frankly, I’m burning my self out.

I’m constantly in a state of never being enough and I’m doing it to myself! 

 

 

Now that I’m done spilling out my heavier thoughts, in true Taryn fashion, I have to end on a positive note and say that I am taking steps to figure out a balance in my life. I am starting to take a magnesium supplement drink every night to see if it positively impacts me. My mom recommended it, because it’s really helped her. I ordered it off of Thrive Market, but I’m sure it can be found in a variety of places!

I am going to work on some tactics to step away from social media for short periods of time to really be present with myself and the people I love. I am going to actively continue positive self-talk every morning. I’ve also been diffusing lavender essential oil, which has been proved to help with anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness. Last night, I decided to fully dive in and ordered a whole Young Living Kit. If you want more information about essential oils, please let me know. I am not well-versed yet, but I can direct you towards an amazing lady who has an abundance of knowledge not only with essential oils, but she’s also a Holistic MS Dietician and Alternative Health Advocate.

Some may think, “just go to a doctor and get a prescription” and I am in no way knocking that path. Who knows, that might be a route I have to take in the future, but I would WAY rather try to remedy my anxiety in a natural way first. I’m passionate about safer products and safer beauty, and I personally believe Big Pharma does NOT have our best interest at heart. More on that topic at a later time!

Anyways, I want to leave you with one last note, from my dear mother, who has helped me navigate through these mentally difficult times.

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I hope her words fill you with some joy or hope as you continue on your own path through life’s winding journey.

Much love,

T

Wrong Man, Right Time – My Story and Reflection on Abuse, Healing, & Misogny

Mental Health

I’ve been waiting for the right time to discuss my past experience with my abuser. Waiting for the courage to put it all out there and to make sure I’m indeed ready to have it in print, on the internet.

With the whole Gillette debacle on everyone’s news feeds last month, I thought this might be the right time. Let me preface this story by inviting you to watch the commercial if you have not yet:

We believe: the best men can be’ razors commercial takes on toxic masculinity 

As I watched the commercial, literal tears filled my eyes. As a sister of two young boys, a dance teacher who works with little ones every day, and an abuse survivor, I was moved. It’s like Gillette knew my story and made a commercial that could actually make a difference! I felt so empowered and personally connected to their message. The words “boys will be boys” were said to me by a local police officer after my abuser had smashed the side mirror off my car. A person of authority who was supposed to protect me said the words, “boys will be boys.” Maybe you think those words hold no negative weight and you think that I’m being a whiny, politically correct baby, but in all the times I’ve heard the phrase, it’s used as an excuse to justify disrespectful, disruptive, or just plain rude behavior. If the words “girls will be girls” were used to excuse girls’ disrespectful behavior I would have the same opinion. In that moment with the police officer and in other moments throughout my life, especially the dramatic 3 months with my ex, is when I realized that something has got to change in the way we raise men. 

Taryn’s Truth is not supposed to be political, and I personally don’t feel like politics have anything to do with the Gillette commercial and those associating politics with it have truly missed the point. If your first instinct is disgust and you feel there is an “agenda” against the true-American man (whatever that means), then I want you to take a moment an envision your daughter, sister, mother, or even your grandmother getting grabbed as they walk down a city street. Envision a man threatening them so vividly that they have to drive 5 hours out-of-town to feel safe. Envision them downplaying their own talents and dreams, because their man has to be more important. Envision them shaking with fear as the man of their dreams (so they thought) wouldn’t stop threatening them. Envision them being told that they aren’t as capable as men. Envision them reaching out for help and no one would believe them, not even the authorities.

All of these things are very real and I know, because all those things above are part of my story. The worst part is that this isn’t just a part of my narrative. This is happening or happened to women I know everywhere! I would go to work and it happened to women there. I went to a coffee shop and ended up talking about a woman’s abuser there. I would share something on Facebook and I would have a handful of women reach out and say it happened to them too! WHAT? I couldn’t believe this.

As I began to unravel my story and other women’s stories, I realized that the amount of physical, mental, and emotional abuse was staggering.

My story begins as a nineteen-year-old who was broken, partying daily, having a ton of fun, but living with extremely low self-worth. I wont lie, there were some amazing memories in that college town, and I met some people who I will always be close with, but I also had my lowest points there too.

I had just broken up with my first college boyfriend of three months and had lost some weight (from stress, super healthy right?). I had a lot of new attention from guys and it felt amazing. My lifestyle was work, party, work, party and then….my ex walked into the picture. Boy, was I hooked. He was so masculine and that felt safe. It felt like he would protect me through anything. Looking back now, I realized that growing up my home life was a bit of a roller coaster, so finding that “safe” feeling was a result of living with up-and-down chaos. I still wrestle with life being too comfortable and not being okay with contentment to this day. If life is fabulous right now, something awful must be headed my way soon, right?

Our first year of the relationship was long-distance, which was fun. He was a college athlete, which was also really attractive to me, because that meant he was goal-oriented. He seemed to be motivated about the future and wanted to strive for bigger and better things. After about 6 months, I really thought he was the one. He had shared with me that he was in anger management classes and had spent a weekend in jail for mistakes he had made in the past. He didn’t go into too much detail, but I thought, “hey, everyone makes mistakes, right?” Later on, more information was shared with me, and I realized I had ignored a pretty large red flag. 

At about a year we were in a transitional stage. He got offered to play at the D2 level at Wayne State, and asked if I would come with. At this point I was ready for a change and my grades weren’t good enough to get into any other schools in MN (whoops). I followed him, because ya know, love. Living together was fine at first. As the year went on, I gained confidence in my academic ability, but, I was loosing confidence in our relationship. I started to notice little things like intimacy was lacking. I felt completely unwanted all the time, like I wasn’t desirable or pretty enough. I felt alone. I realized that I had been dating this man (boy) for a year and a half and I knew nothing about him. We shared nothing. I was craving that openness and connection. Thankfully my communication major helped me achieve a lot of that. The Wayne State Comm. Department really saved me in many ways. They were my people. The people I could open up to about what was going on in my relationship and didn’t judge me, ever (love you all).

At the end of our first year living together, we both were unhappy. It was evident, but I was terrified to bring anything up to him. He was the most intimidating person to talk too, so I shut down. I knew he could never see my point of view and deep down I knew that was a big problem. I decided to write it all down and spill my feelings in a letter. We went back to MN for the summer and I left the letter on his bed. He said nothing. In fact, ignored me and disregarded all of my feelings, basically making me feel crazy. I “messed up” by writing it. A couple of days later I left for Australia in the midst of not knowing where my relationship stood. I came back and we still never really talked about it, but I stayed in the relationship anyway. My biggest excuse was that “we always had so much fun together.” Truthfully I just didn’t know who I would be without him. It felt like I couldn’t breath thinking about not having him in my life.

We carried on being together into the next school year. Very disconnected, but still together. We did however, decide to live separately. We thought having our own space would be better for the relationship. Now I know it was just a preparation for the end. The memories are fuzzy at this point, but this is the year that everything changed.

Over the summer prior to the life-changing school year, I had made some horrible choices. I felt so incredibly lonely that I found comfort in old habits like partying and other guys. I can’t blame him for those choices. I should have walked away from the relationship, but I just couldn’t let go 100%. He’d pull away and then pull me back in again. I think down deep I knew that if I were to let go, he wouldn’t have let me.

Flash forward to the school year. I wasn’t happy and we had good moments in between the mess, but my drinking escalated. Not daily, but when I would go out, the amount went up. It was the only time I felt free and one night I felt a little too free, and made a mistake. My ex found out and all the choices from the summer prior started to unravel. To put it lightly, shit hit the fan, and his “other side” came out in full force and this is when I was introduced to what I now know as my abuser.

I can’t repeat the names I was called. It was mortifying and demeaning and because I was the one messing up, I thought I deserved it. I was the screwed up one that wasn’t faithful. I found out later that he was unfaithful throughout our relationship (interesting how that works). All of these mistakes happened while drinking and in order to save myself and the relationship I checked myself into out-patient treatment for 3 weeks. I dealt with some heavy emotional baggage there and when I came out, I was stronger, but still emotionally fragile and I think my ex looked at it as a way to manipulate me. I was the one that needed help, not him, so he held that over my head as a control tactic. I think he felt like some sort of knight in shining armour, but turns out I had learned coping mechanisms to become my own savior.

I was sober for 9 months and as I got healthier, the relationship got weaker. We technically broke up in January, but continued doing whatever we were doing until we went back to MN for the summer. That was the most mentally painful summer I have ever had. It was also the summer that changed my life. I worked with a sponsor and constantly worked on myself. I had my family for support and I spent saturday nights with my mom listening to motivational speakers rather than partying in uptown. I saw my ex maybe 5 times that summer. We would go days without speaking and I remember my heart physically hurting. I still couldn’t let go completely.

When we got back to school, we hung out one night and I gave him a choice. I said I was done living in the grey area and we would either make this work and put our 100% effort into the relationship or we would be nothing at all. I didn’t need him at this point, but after three years together, there was still some love left there. He couldn’t give me an answer, so I decided no answer was my answer. At this point forward I was done!

I felt alive, refreshed, and strong. I was back in my comfort zone. I was super involved in my comm. department, my PR internship, and coaching. I had amazing roommates who supported me throughout everything, including my sobriety. We would go out and have a blast. I realized I was fine on my own. After awhile I decided to talk to other men and go on a few dates. This was the start of the most stressful and difficult three months of my life. Apparently I was done, but my ex wasn’t.

After he realized that he had lost me and lost control of me, the insanity kicked in. It started with threats on social media and trying to intimidate friends or anyone I was possibly talking too. His drinking was out of control. From the outside looking in it seemed as though he was spiraling. I had blocked his number and social media contact with him, so he would email me. One message would say how I ruined his life and I was a slut, whore, etc…Another email would say how much he loved me and would have to kill himself if he didn’t get me back. I was so nervous that he would take his own life that at one point I sent the cops to his house to check on him. My mom had conversations with him to try to get him into treatment. He said he would go, so of course my sympathetic self decided to be there for him, as a friend. It was just more manipulation.

I was talking to a guy at the time and my ex found out. He wanted to talk and I got in the car with him. Looking back I have no idea why I continued to play his game, but I was terrified. He made me tell him the guy’s name and after I finally did, out of fear, he left me in a parking lot all the way across town. I had to call someone else to pick me up. The next weekend I was with the new guy at the bar with friends. My ex showed up and got in his face. The whole baseball team escorted me out of the bar safely thank goodness. He then proceeded to threaten the guy by saying things like, “I know where you live. She’s a psycho, you’re making a mistake. Better watch your back.” That same night, he broke into a baseball house and punched a random guy in the face.

I tried to manage his behavior on my own and even though I knew what he was doing was wrong, I still didn’t know if I should involve the police. I honestly think I was in shock. I had read about women in these situations before, but could NOT come to terms with the fact that the women I read about was now me. My family and friends finally convinced me that the police needed to be involved. I brought proof of all the threats on social media and email. So much proof that I thought they would have to arrest him or do something, but nope. There was no direct threat that actually stated my full name, so their “hands were tied” and “boys will be boys.” There was nothing they could legally do.

After this, calling the cops became a regular occurrence. One night, at 2am, my ex was yelling outside my house, banging on all the doors and windows. My roommates and I were hidden behind the couch dialing 911, because he wouldn’t leave. This happened twice. Still there was nothing the cops could do.

The next couple weeks were filled with more crazy incidents. He burnt my grandma’s table that I had left at his house in a bonfire and emailed me pictures of it. He kicked the side mirror off my car, dented, and keyed it. I had started casually dating another guy and he threatened the guy’s family. He figured out how to call me, even though I blocked his number. I woke up multiple mornings in a row with 100+ missed calls. I had to turn my phone off, because it would vibrate all night. He logged into all my social media accounts and changed passwords, deleted friends, and sent horrible messages to people.

This was it. I needed to do something. I went up to Minnesota for a weekend out of sheer fear, because the behavior was escalating at such a rapid rate. I couldn’t help but think about what he would possibly do next?

The next step was Haven House, a local organization that helps and can give shelter to victims of abuse. They encouraged me to get an order or protection and walked me through the whole process. I filled out the paperwork and a week later, turned it into the judge. Within hours, because of all the proof I had and his prior convictions, the judge granted it and served him the papers the same night. I was free at last.

The following months I carried on and started healing. I was jumpy or as some would say, had PTSD symptoms for almost a full year after everything went on. But, I had an amazing support system. My classmates, my roommates, friends, family. They all were there and I will never be able to thank them enough.

Shortly after, Kyle came into my life. At first, my friends were concerned. Had I healed enough to begin something with someone else? Trust me, I wrestled with this concept for a while too, and while it was a little quick, there was something about Kyle that was too great to pass up.

The way we clicked was organic. It just felt right. He knew what had happened to me a couple of months prior. Instead of turning away and saying I had too much baggage…he helped me heal. He would hold me as I cried. It was never “I” with him, it was always “we.” How are WE going to fix this and oh boy, did I try to push him away. He didn’t budge and I’m forever grateful. It’s like God knew that I needed a blessing after everything I had gone through, so he sent me Kyle. Over two years later, and I still look at him with butterflies, most days (hehe).

In regards to my sobriety….I realized that I was trying to get sober for a person that controlled me and I started the treatment process for all the wrong reasons, BUT I am so incredibly glad I took 9 months to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol. I don’t regret it for one second. I dealt with things I probably never would have, because I was sober and working on myself. For over two years now I’ve been able to enjoy alcohol minimally and not lean on it to cope or for emotional support. Kyle and I both decided that drinking doesn’t need to be a huge part of our lives.

Writing this story took me over a week. Still to this day, I start shaking when I think about it. The toughest part is knowing I was a “victim.” I don’t want people to pity me or feel bad for me. I want to be an inspiration or possibly a beacon of hope for those in abusive situations. I don’t mind sharing my story, but it is so damn difficult for me to identify with the word, “victim.” I feel like a damn warrior! I know I’m not weak, but for me, as a person who prides themselves on their resiliency, it was hard to grasp that I “let” him walk all over me for years. I made excuses for him. I obviously now know better, that this was NOT my fault. This was a part of my path and I firmly believe the strength that grew out of the trauma is how I was able to start my business and maintain a healthy, successful relationship with Kyle.

Let me conclude with a few points about unhealthy relationships and/or abuse:

  1. If they are overly jealous, protective, or judgemental. It’s not love, it’s control. There’s a difference. Some people love to control you, they don’t love you. Most times, because they don’t even know how to love or they themselves are out of control. 
  2. I know that “getting out” is harder said than done. You probably think that you’re the only one that can “handle” your partner’s behavior and that staying is strong. It takes a tough person to work things out, right? If you leave, maybe you’re weak? NOT true! Putting yourself first is the ballsiest move you can make. 
  3. LIFE IS TOO DAMN SHORT. I stayed a year too long trying to manage the relationship, and for what? I couldn’t fix him and you can’t fix your partner either. There’s so many amazing people in this world and there’s a lot of things in this life you can’t control. One thing you CAN control is who you spend it with. Somebody out there will love you the way you deserve and help put your broken pieces back together. 
  4. You will never be enough for the wrong person!
  5. Stop blaming yourself and stop apologizing just to keep the peace. Did that forever just to avoid tough communication or fights. If you can’t have a real conversation with your partner, that’s a problem.
  6. Love takes daily maintenance, but maintenance that comes from both sides. 50/50!
  7. Love is not painful.
  8. Don’t stay just because feeling pain is better than feeling nothing at all. Find love in other things or within your beautiful self, instead of putting all your eggs in your toxic partner’s basket. 

In conclusion, the reason why the Gillette commercial means so much to me is because I’ve lived with disrespect, abuse, misogyny, and toxic masculinity. I know the definition for that word, toxic masculinity, is inconclusive and some people think there is a war on men and there very well might be. I do feel for them and understand the dichotomy of societal male expectations. They have to be a handy-man that’s strong, but also gentle and emotionally available. But, I don’t believe that was the theme of the commercial. The theme was to be better men NOT less manly. 

Like the commercial talks about, there are so many men (like my wonderful Kyle) that are making changes in small and big ways. But, “some is not enough.” 

The world doesn’t need less manly men, it needs less misogynistic men.

I hope my story empowers and inspires victims AND abusers to seek help. I do not have any ill feelings towards my abuser anymore. I have forgiven him and moved on. It’s taken years, but I did it. As buddha says, “you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”

Thanks for reading!

Much love,

T

 

If you are in a dangerous or unsafe situation, here are a few organizations and numbers you can reach out to:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 

Haven House Family Services Center Hotline: 1-800-440-4633

Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474

National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453

Taking Care of Yourself – So Hard, but So Necessary

Mental Health

I took a break from writing last week, because my new business venture and coaching took priority. Also, because I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to say next. I’ve been pondering ways to discuss my business and the challenges I face owning a dance studio. I say the word “challenges,” because unfortunately that’s the way I have been feeling lately. Simply put, I’m overwhelmingly burnt out and a little sick. I can’t seem to escape the kiddos’ germs.

There are beautiful moments in the madness, of course, and I truly am a “glass is half full” type of person, but I will say I am ready for a break!

I want to be that person or blogger that everyone looks to for the best advice on staying positive, business ownership, and guidance on how to build success. I believe I have great tips for all of those things, but I’m human and I would be lying if I said that every single time I get kicked down by life that I let it go and keep going. I do continue moving forward in regards to getting my work done, but it’s done with loads of caffeine, sometimes discontentment, and a large dose of complaining. Sorry boyfriend!

The “show must go on” attitiude is something I struggle with everyday. I don’t make enough time to center myself. I don’t meditate everyday like I’d like too. I continue working on my business at all hours of the night. Because of this, my sleep schedule is far from normal. Even then still, I make sure my obligations are fulfilled and everyone’s expectations are met, but my biggest question lately is…at what cost emotionally, physically, and mentally?

I find it ironic that I picked a career where there are literally hundreds of people relying on me, but I am as sensitive as they come. Despite the strong exterior, I can not have someone upset with me for more than a day. It would eat me alive. I care so incredibly much and the need to please people causes me more anxiety than I’d like to admit. It’s bittersweet carrying that weight, but I also know that running a business, a successful business, takes compassion and empathy. I’d rather be this way than the alternative. I’m slowly learning how to take care of my sensitive soul and even in the midst of all the stress, I do practice self-care, at least a little bit!

  • I spend time by myself. Not often, because Kyle and I live together, but when I get a night where he is away I don’t always fill it with friends or big plans. Instead, the only thing I plan is to be with me. I do laundry, binge watch Hulu, take a bath, bake, drink wine, take on small tasks on the to-do list, or write, like I currently am now. It’s amazing how healing it is for me. After spending all week communcating with kids and parents, the best thing to do for myself is to say nothing for a whole night.
  • I work out. I should work out everyday, but the physical demands of teaching dance at night, make that difficult. I do still make it to the gym at least 2-4 times a week. Yes, it’s to make sure I maintain my girlish figure or whatever, but it’s also for my mental well-being. There’s a difference between the exercise I get teaching and dancing than running and lifting. When I’m on the treadmill or stairclimber I will say positive mantras over and over again. Something like, “You are strong. You are content. You will make a difference today.” Variations of those messages to myself while working out are the reason I don’t go insane.
  • I call my family. Seems obvious, but I don’t do it nearly enough. I think I just try to avoid the feelings of missing them, so I end up calling a little less often. I came to that realization recently, and I’m now trying to reach out frequently simply because I need it. I still need the healing voice of my grandma, the thought-provoking words from my mom, and the confidence boost from my grandpa.
  • I make time for travel. I feel like I have an innate need to travel. This might be overdramatic, but if I don’t hop on an airplane or take a roadtrip at least 2-3 times a year, I don’t think I’d survive. The feeling of experiencing a new place reminds me that there is so much more to do in this life and many more ways to impact people. It’s completing motivating and invigorating. I’m grateful that I had the privilege to travel often as I grew up and I’m blessed that I’m at a point in my life where travel is possible.
  • I’m listening to my body. A lot of times that means saying no more often and taking time to rest. I always used to run, run, run and then I’d break or get physically sick. I’m not saying that doesn’t still happen every so often, but at least I now am recognizing when I need to just have a night of netflix and chocolate ice cream. I love being busy. In fact, I thrive off of stress to the most dysfunctional degree. But, by being self-aware and forcing myself to take breaks, I’ve been able to manage that stress effectively throughout the last couple years.

Things I’d love to work on or practice more often:

Further my spirituality and continue to find out what God means to me. Pray. Read. Do yoga daily instead of once a month. Eat less sugar. Reach out for help when I need it. Let go of things I can’t control a little quicker. Stop getting worked up so easily and taking it out on my poor boyfriend. Last, but not least, never sacrifice my mental well-being. It needs to be a priority, in every stage of my life.

Thanks for reading a very personal entry of mine and I hope you find some peace knowing that we all need to get better at taking care of ourselves. You’re not the only one struggling, but hey, if you’re kicking ass at it…send me some of your wisdom!

Much love,

T