This Holiday Season, Don’t Forget Your Inner Gingerbread Person

Our holiday celebrations form around stories that remind us of the invisible, the unexplainable, the liberating, the joyful, and the miraculous. Whether we realize it or not, our holiday stories are there to remind us of all that is within us, waiting to be touched, to be illuminated, and to be shared.  The oil that kept the lamp burning, the star that led to the humble manger, the baby who grew to be a man of wisdom and miracles…This holiday season, as the material world beckons your attention, Continue reading

Fear of Relapsing Into Isolation and Pain

Dear Liz,

Recently, I have been internally going in a downward spiral. I have been waiting for, and dreading this moment to come, as I have been in this state before. The world seems to keep turning while I am invisible and stationary– stuck in one moment in time. No one can see it because it doesn’t seem like I am in as bad of a place as I was, but what they can’t see is that I am. No one has ever been able to really see me. Even I have trouble seeing me. I’ll have to have a few more sit-downs with my gingerbread person before I’ll be able to see myself and the good that I carry. I’m not sure if there is a question to pull from this. Maybe since I am more aware of my symptoms I can ask, how do you stop a relapse from ruining a portion of life? How do I get myself up and going every day, if only mechanical body? At the end of the day, I am the only one who will have my back. I have no one to take the pain away or to walk and talk with me every day. The only person who can do that is myself. What are some ways to get to the point of holding enough self-love so that I am able to walk with myself every day? 

I realize there are no right or wrong answers to my questions. I know whatever you have to say will be helpful. Thank you, Liz. Continue reading

Moving Beyond Loneliness and Despair: Death is not Real

Dear Liz,

Recently, I am struggling with the fact that I don’t feel as though I belong, not only among my peers, but in all aspects of my life. Along with this, I am afraid that I am battling severe depression, but I don’t know where in myself I can find the courage to get help. I have a hard time getting out of bed every morning, because I know that when I do, I am just going to be dealing with the same demons that create my life and make it hard for me to go to class, or to go home, or to work. I have no idea how to find what I need to feel better, because no matter what I do I am so unhappy. I want to go home and want to take a leave of absence from school, but I don’t want to be with my abusive mother and I don’t want to fall behind in school because I only have the next year to finish.  I use that goal to get myself through because for some reason when I think about finishing school, I think that all of these problems and feelings will go away. But at the end of the day, I’m up all night dreading all of these things. What do I do to make it through this?  Continue reading

What is a home and how do I find one?

Dear Liz,

They say home is where the heart is. But I don’t know where my heart is…

My life has been one of inconsistency. I am 21 years old and already I have lived in 15 different “homes” (houses). That number doesn’t include the two separate places where both of my parents currently reside while I attend school (also not counted) on the opposite side of the country. I see them for a few weeks every 6 months, the case for the last 3 years. If I define a place I’ve lived as a place where I have a permanent bed I can call my own, the number is nearly 20. Almost one for every year that I have walked this earth. This doesn’t bother me, except the inconvenience of travel (I’ve had to drive cross-country about 4 times now, once by myself which was fun). I like to be independent.  Soon I will be faced with a strange predicament where I could choose Oregon, Nevada or New Hampshire as my state of residence. This is not where my struggle lies, though.

Small talk with peers always includes my least favorite question: So where are you from? Sometimes I say California, sometimes New Hampshire, other times I just say it’s complicated and that I’m from nowhere and everywhere. I have discovered a very interesting form of homelessness. While I am not living on the streets, I feel as though I have no real home. There is Continue reading

Sexual Abuse

Dear Readers:  The person who submitted this question is a young woman—as such, I’ve decided to engage the topic of sexual abuse as it pertains to girls/women.  I am very aware that boys/young men are also victims, and I in no way intend to marginalize their experience by speaking solely about girls/women—I am simply tailoring my response to the circumstances presented to me by this questioner.  

Dear Liz,

I had a horrible relationship with my mother in high school because she was dealing with her newly diagnosed bi-polar disorder.  We would always clash because I didn’t know what she was going through, but now I fear I am turning into her. I see myself lashing out sometimes and getting upset over things that seem to have no substance, and when I do calm down I realize that I shouldn’t have gotten angry. Most of the time I take it out on my boyfriend, and that’s what I fear the most.  I don’t want to upset him over tiny fights and push him away. It’s like I have in my head this “self-fulfilling prophecy” that of course I’m going to turn into my mother—I feel like I’m making that fear come true.  My boyfriend is very supportive of me trying to deal with this situation. He never gets mad at me in return—when I am angry he tries to solve where it is coming from and why.  My worst fear is pushing him away while trying to figure this out. 

I don’t know if this aggression I have is stemming from me thinking I am turning into my mother, or from the sexual abuse I suffered in high school from my first boyfriend at the age of 14. My boyfriend would hit me, cheat on me, and sexually assault me—this was all very frequent for 9 months.  I was so young and sensitive and he was 17 and I didn’t know what to do, so I put up with it.  When I’d tell him I wanted to end it, he would threaten to kill himself.  He finally hit me in public once, and my best friend and her boyfriend saw, which gave me a way out because he got scared that I wasn’t the only one to know anymore. 

While all this was going on with my boyfriend, my mother was dealing with her anger over being raped by her cousin.  When she returned home for a wedding, she saw him and he hugged her as if nothing happened.  It brought up so many emotions for her and she ended up taking it out on me—she would lash out and hit me—it got so bad that my dad and I had to move out for a few months.  I went to a therapist for a while and I thought I had dealt with my pain, but with all these emotions now I’m not sure what to think. I get so angry at little things, like my personal short comings and when things don’t go as planned—it’s starting to affect my life.  I just want to get my anger or whatever seems to be happening to me under control before I turn into my ex or my mom.  I’m lashing out like I did before I went to my counselor in high school.  I’m not sure where to go from here. I don’t know if you have any insight for me, but I’ll wait to hear back.         Continue reading

The High Price of Perfectionism

 

Dear Liz,

I feel as though my need to be “perfect” all the time is truly starting to have a significant negative impact on my life. It has a huge impact on how I feel about myself which is probably why I view myself in such a negative way. Logically, I know that these thoughts are all silly, but I still can’t help but to let them control my life in a lot of ways. Are there any “cures” for perfectionism, or is it just part of who I am as a person? Thank you in advance for your help.

Continue reading

Why Don’t I Experience Sexual Attraction?

Dear Liz,

I think I might be a sex-positive asexual (which means that while I enjoy sex, I don’t experience sexual attraction).  I’ve identified as bisexual in the past, because I am generally attracted to both men and women, but I’ve only had one relationship before.  During that relationship, my ex would often tell me that she didn’t feel like I was sexually attracted to her.  I think she might have been right?  I don’t feel what I assume is some kind of want for sex with celebrity crushes, and I don’t feel it for people who I find aesthetically pleasing and who I know I should, logically, find sexually attractive.  But I don’t know if this lack of feeling is truly asexuality, or if I just don’t know that what I am feeling counts as sexual attraction?  I feel physically/aesthetically drawn to people, as well as Continue reading

Young Woman Questions Sexual Orientation/Worries About Family’s Reaction

Dear Liz,

My whole life up until now I have dated males.  This past summer, my best friend of seven years and I started getting closer.  We are now dating and have been for seven months, though it’s been kept a secret.   I am not attracted to girls, yet I see the girl I am dating as the most beautiful soul I have ever met.  It almost doesn’t matter that she’s a girl because I see her as perfection.  Does this make me homosexual?  Do you think that even though I never saw this for my life, I can be with her for the rest of my life, despite all the changes and controversy it will bring?  The other question I have is how to deal with telling my parents—I was raised Catholic and my parents are very religious.  This is my best friend from home and we have sleepovers and she is basically part of my family, and I don’t want to show my parents disrespect under their roof.  If it were a boyfriend, he wouldn’t be allowed in my bedroom, but they don’t know about my situation.  Is honesty the best policy, even though I know it will destroy them?
Continue reading