Practicing Gratitude

It is incredibly easy to get down when things don’t happen the way you want them to. When life hands you those annoying lemons you’re supposed to turn into lemonade.

That’s exactly what we need to do!!! Take the worst of life events and turn it into something as positive as possible. This is not easy sometimes. I do know a few people that can practice this, faithfully, on a daily basis.

Any change in life takes practice. So, with this in mind, I end my day thanking God for what I’m so thankful for. I spend a few moments alone outside on the deck or in my living room at the end of every day.

I realize I may not have everything I want but I truly have everything I need. Wonderful family and friends, a husband that loves me, a roof, a bed and all other basic essentials are met. I am even working again and earning an income to help support my family.

Have you ever heard the phrase “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”?? It is incredibly true. I loved being a therapist and I was pretty good at it. (Based on client/professional feedback). When you find yourself working for a “Purpose” a “Cause” or anything that touches you to your core, you end up loving what you do. I have been lucky enough to find a company and a supervisor that I can help and they are compassionate regarding my limitations.

My point in telling you all this is that we are never too old to learn. Being in my 40’s, I still know I have a lot of changes to make. One step, one moment at a time. I will be sure to practice gratitude along the journey.

How do you practice gratitude? Drop me a note and let me know. Or, comment on this post.

-Becca

It’s been awhile.

My apologies for the delay in posting. So many exciting things have been happening and I’ve just been super busy.

The month of July started out crazy but when I finally got to visit my old group home, I felt a change. I met with one of the directors. She is an amazing woman and I can tell she truly cares about these kids.

There have been quite a few changes made within the system, as well as the home, that are extremely positive. Kids can now secure safe housing until age 23!! My 18th birthday I was booted out w/my belongings. I had no choice but to return to my abusers’ home. That was no bueno!!

The home is now down from an 18 child capacity to about 12. There were 9 boys/9 girls back in the late 80’s/early 90’s when I was there. This allows for a lot more dedicated 1:1 treatment and care.

It was interesting visiting my old rooms, talking about things I did there (both good and bad) and seeing the changes. However, my purpose for this visit is to prepare for a conversation I’m going to have with the kids in the fall.

More on that soon!!

I have also started working for the first time in years and I’m SO thrilled!!! I was connected, through my mother in law, with a director of a non-profit, lgbtq+ organization that is doing some amazing work!! I’ve been busy reading historical materials and familiarizing myself with the organization’s pedagogy and mission.

So far I have been incredibly impressed!! This company is doing great things and I’m proud to be a part of it. I’m also earning some income to help my family. All around a great new adventure in my life.

This has left me with little time for blogging as I’ve been coping with vertigo and trying to get depression medication on the correct dose. The new psychiatrist is wonderful. She listens and takes my concerns seriously. I feel “heard”. Honestly, isn’t that what we all want from a doctor?! Nowadays that can be a struggle. Especially if you are overweight. You get the “fat slap” response. They say “lose weight and see a shrink”. Yup, I’m on it. Ugh

I’m sure several of you can relate. Yes I own full responsibility for the fact that I eat too much, I don’t exercise and I’m extremely overweight because of my behavior. Hey doc, that doesn’t explain the vertigo!!

We have to stand up for ourselves!! Advocate and be heard!! If not, find someone else. We all have to own our crap but we absolutely do not deserve to be dismissed because of it.

Always make your mental health a priority. Practice some self care until you can do what you need to. If our mental health concerns are managed, then tackling the physical may not feel so overwhelming.

Keep hope alive. Never give up on yourself. I’m worth it and so are you!!

Send me a note and let me know how you are.

Becca

What is your legacy?

I am my own worst critic!!! Does this ring true for you as well? If so, rest assured, you are not alone.

I have been incredibly judgmental of my appearance since I was very young. I remember my Dad verbally assaulting my Mom for being “a fat b****”. He said these words, in my presence, repeatedly during my younger years.

When I began to grow up I went through several episodes of anger and sadness over what he said. Because eventually he started saying it to me. I remember hearing things such as “you’re such a pig”, “you don’t need more food. You’ll just get fat like your Mom”. Even though I was very thin as a child, he would still constantly berate me.

About the age of 9/10 I began to develop and put on some weight. I was an early bird with height/weight. I was the tallest girl in my classes until I entered high school. The verbal abuse became physical abuse and my food was restricted and limited by my Dad and stepmom to an extreme severity.

It got to the point where I would “steal” food because I was so hungry. I got into trouble, got a whipping with the belt and then it would start anew. In 7th grade I ended up developing anorexia nervosa and a severe iron deficiency that lead to problems with anemia. No pre-teen should have to deal with such issues.

Most importantly, it happens to ALOT of young girls and women. We are told, from our very first TV program that women are to be thin, coifed and beautiful. It’s a totally unacceptable concept to EVER possibly be overweight AND be beautiful. It’s a damaging message we are sending to the women in our lives. It needs to end.

The problem with all of this is that it leads to SO many road blocks in life, for me anyway. I am my biggest obstacle. Because I have put on so much weight over the years, my self-esteem is drastically affected. I lose motivation to do things. I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, which leads to self-sabotage. Then the entire cycle repeats itself.

It is a form of self abuse. It is something I am working on in therapy. My clinician is wonderful and helped me to figure out how to overcome some of my fears. I’ll tell you why.

I have a dear friend that I have known since I was 15 that I have reconnected with since returning to my home area. He was one of my first boyfriends as a teenage girl. We ended up going our separate ways and both found happiness and love with our current spouses.

Over the last year of Covid, and being endlessly isolated, we texted quite a bit. Took the opportunity to get to know each other all over again. He introduced me to new music and was just someone who has been “there” for me during some pretty stressful times.

We decided to meet up, after not seeing each other since 1996. He and his wife are leaving on their next adventure and it would be an opportunity to say hi in person before he leaves for probably a year or more. I really wanted to visit but I dreaded it as well.

I could not get out of my own head. I was beating myself up and was terrified of seeing that “OMG you’re huge” look I see in people’s eyes when they first see me. I seriously had someone say to me, after 10 years of not seeing each other, “Boy, you got fat!!” That was a rough moment. Especially because it was family.

So, I chickened out and canceled. I felt horrible about it but I just couldn’t get out of my own way. I created walls around me for a reason!! Sound familiar??? Yeah, I know.

I eventually did meet him for lunch. I made sure I dressed nice, hair done, makeup on, nails done etc. But I DID IT FOR ME. I had no reason to impress anyone and didn’t feel the need to impress. I just wanted to feel as comfortable in my own skin as I possibly could.

I’m sure at this point you’re wondering how it went? It was great. I had absolutely no reason to get myself that upset and worked up. I realized that good friends will stick with you no matter what. Weight be damned!!

I am very lucky that I have great friends and a husband that tells me I’m beautiful. I just wish “I” could believe it. What I do know to be sure is that I am a very soft hearted, kind and loving person. Don’t get me wrong, I can throw down when I need to. And I do it with sass.

The point of all of this is that we are all beautiful!! Big, small, short, tall, round, lean, it’s all labels. Who cares how heavy you are?! If you are kind to people, and truly love and adore those in your life, that is the true essence of a person. I am far from perfect. But, I am perfectly me. We all have room for improvement somewhere, right?

Let us stop beating ourselves up and missing out on life because of self consciousness and negative self image!!! Let your freak flag fly and live life. It could be gone tomorrow so don’t live with regrets. Tell people you love them and tell them often.

I hope that when my time comes people will never doubt that I loved them. That is what I want my legacy to be. What’s yours??

Please feel free to comment or send me a message with any thoughts.

Until next time, let’s all try to live our best life.

-Becca

Let’s Just Get The Truth Out

**Trigger warning. Sensitive topics that some might find uncomfortable. Please seek out help from a licensed therapist***

It’s time for me to clear the air. To release the TRUTH about what happened to me as a child and what really went on before and after I was removed from my Dad’s house.

When I was 6, 7, 8 then again at 10,11&12, I lived with my biological father, his wife, my stepbrother and half brother (I was almost 6 when he was born). My father was an alcoholic but he was a mean, angry, abusive alcoholic as well. What he did to me was a secret. He and his wife took turns when the other one was gone and the other two kids were “occupied”.

The last time he and his wife went after me they put me in the hospital. I was taken from the hospital and put back into that awful place until a foster/group home became available. I was 12 at this time. I was scared, terrified even.

I was terrified of being tortured again but apparently the cop that dropped me off gave them just enough of a scare that they left me alone. I ended up in several different foster homes before going into a group home, Dover Children’s Home in Dover, NH. This place was hell at first BUT it was also where I started to heal. I needed a physical healing of time and respite. I had no idea how much of an emotional healing i truly needed.

I bounced around several more times before I graduated high school. After some time, I ended up back at my fathers house. Why would you DO that?!?! You are probably screaming at me through the screen? I get it!

As anyone could tell you, I still wanted my Dad and stepmom in my life. She and I began talking again. She was FINALLY ready to pack up and leave Dad. Well ok then!! Let’s do this!! I took a bus from North Carolina to New Hampshire.

I lived there for 6 months. 6 months of sleeping on a loveseat, and paying current and back due rent for 6 additional months. I paid the utilities. I bought the groceries. I was working full time and had nothing to show for it.

I spoke to her in September and told her I would give her a couple more months and then I was done. I told her that I was looking at moving out and needed to save my money. I told her several times she was welcome to come with me and I would make sure she was taken care of. She said no.

December arrived and I paid those bills. All of them!! She said “what about January?” I responded with “I told you in September that this month was the last time because I am moving in March and need every extra penny”.

When I got home from work the next day, my stuff was packed in garbage bags and on the kitchen table. I knocked on her door and said “why is all my stuff on the table?” She said, and I am directly quoting because I could never forget it, “you don’t want to help anymore? You want out? Get your sh!? And gtfo!!” I burst into tears because I had no idea where to go or what to do. Thankfully my mother in law (who I had only known for a few short months) came, backed up, threw my stuff in the trunk and peeled out of there!! My Dad was sitting in his van, drinking and we were terrified of what he would do.

The point of this entire back story is to let you all know that, contrary to popular opinion, I DID NOT ABANDON MY FAMILY!!! It was the other way around. Over and over and over and over again these people hurt me. The physical abuse was one thing but the emotional abuse was worse. I did not think I would still be treated like crap after everything I had done!! It was because of me that they hadn’t been evicted before I got there. I am now convinced that her every intention was to use me for what she could before she spit me back out. Well done. You did.

With ALL of this I STILL MADE IT!! I put myself through grad school (with the amazing support of my husband and his family). I am not perfect. I am a very fluffy and aging human. But my spirit is strong, beautiful and tenacious!! I am a good person and I tell people I love them. I never heard it growing up. But the people in my life will know that I loved them. Yes, I make it weird sometimes, but I don’t care.

Don’t ever give up. Don’t stop fighting. When you know you have climbed your own version of Mt Everest, in spite of it all, it’s worth it. The view is amazing.

Love to all. Keep your soul fed. ❤️❤️

Insurance Companies

Just writing these words elevates my anxiety levels!

Dealing with insurance companies is exhausting, frustrating and infuriating. I know there have to be a few of you out there that can empathize with what I’m saying.

I have been taking a specific medication for my breakthrough migraine pain. The pain stems from my Chiari and side effects from the surgery. This medication was denied on appeal. Twice.

I don’t want to appear ungrateful, because I am extremely grateful that I live in a country where I am afforded the opportunity to have access to insurance and proper medical care. I am aware that there are several areas in this world where that is not the case.

With that being stated, when you have insurance and they don’t cover your needs, it is so terribly defeating. I’m a compliant patient. I take all meds as prescribed. Yet, some incompetent paper pusher has decided I do not need a medication that improves my quality of life.

Then, you appeal and an actual Medical Doctor reviews your “case” and determined that it is “not medically necessary”. My doctor, a neurologist and specialist, has prescribed this for me. He obviously felt it was a medical necessity for me. Otherwise he wouldn’t have prescribed it. The irony is face-smacking!!

I have also been a provider, as a mental health therapist, and watched my clients struggle getting access to medications and treatments. I’ve had the opportunity to view this ongoing problem from both sides of the pendulum. Unfortunately, it swings further to the side of the insurance/pharmaceutical companies. There are no words.

Providers are starting to leave their profession due to the struggles they face when dealing with insurance companies. To become a “preferred provider”, you have to sign a contract to only accept a certain amount of money. Sometimes it is nickels on the dollar. Because of this, it can take months to see a proper physician. In the meantime, patients are committing suicide, in the worst cases.

This is inexcusable!! I will fully admit that I do not know what the solution is. I’m sure it’s not easy to fix. I am hopeful that the next generation may get better options.

I will continue to fight, and advocate for myself. We all have to do this. We need to keep pushing those boundaries until they are eventually changed for the better. For everyone.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Until next time.

Keep fighting!

-Becca

Never give up!

I know I’ve been absent lately. I apologize. I’ve been struggling with some things. I promised honesty and transparency with you all. So, here is what has been happening.

I started smoking again back in February. I got very upset about something and picked it back up again. Battling addiction friggin’ sucks!!

My voice has deteriorated over the last two months, my health has declined and I started to put weight on. My initial reasons for starting back up have come with some serious consequences.

When will I ever learn? I do not know. But I do know that as long as I don’t give up trying, eventually I will climb this mountain and find myself on the other side.

I am now approximately 56 hours into attempting to quit again. It has been rough. Shakes, sore throat, cough, migraine etc. These are all short term however. Thank goodness!!

It is pretty shocking how, after two days, I can already breathe deeper. My sinuses are clearing out and things already taste different. I try to keep reminding myself of the positive.

Have any of you struggled with addiction to substances/food/tobacco? Drop me a note and let me know how you cope.

If you have found yourself in relapse, don’t beat yourself up! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and let’s do this!!

Hugs to you all.

-Becca

Isolation

This last year of Covid has made isolation a torture and a comfort for me. I’ve always had anxiety around people. It’s getting worse as I get older.

I miss spending time with friends, hugging those I miss and love and just being able to read facial cues. That last one has become quite complicated with everyone wearing masks. I am a trained psychotherapist and facial cues are essential during that process. I may not be working but I still utilized my ability to read people’s responses. Can’t do that anymore.

Everything about Covid has stunk up the last year. However, I know every single one of us has learned something about ourselves, discovered our patience levels, tried new things and survived.

I am trying to remember all I have to be grateful for. Which is a lot!! I am truly blessed with wonderful people in my life. Both near and too far away.

I recognize the importance of socializing. I also know how much easier it is to stay home. The effort to continue to build and nurture my relationships with others is a priority. I need to see other faces and have conversations and laughs.

Stand up, face your fears and conquer your goals!!

-Note To Self

-Becca

Taking Responsibility

Do you remember, when you were a kid, you’d get in trouble for something, get spanked or grounded, then go about your day? Not too horrible, right?

What about those times when an adult you looked up to, for me it was the staff at my group home, wouldn’t punish you but instead said, “I’m very disappointed in you”. Ugh. Soul crushing, right? I can still remember these instances and get a lump in my stomach.

When I became an adult, like after age 30, I started to get the revelation that I should have listened to all those people trying to rear, support, assist and help me navigate the world. When it REALLY hits me is when something I say/do affects someone negatively.

I recently reconnected with a friend that I hurt. Not just hurt but crushed in such a way that things may never be the same between us. We have both apologized for what happened. But the way I handled it went WAY beyond what should have ever happened. I do not need to go into details. Mostly because I’m ashamed of my behavior and the disrespect I showed someone I love.

I am currently in therapy trying to develop ways to recognize my symptoms and triggers and learn alternative coping skills. This is something I want to do because I know that I am a loving and caring human being. But I am not without fault. Nobody is.

I may not like it or want to hear it but I need to. Not just to grow but to help feed and nurture my relationships; friends or family or framily. I understand that, through personal growth work, strengthening relationships will be a positive result. It is definitely not easy. The road is hard and paved with turmoil. But losing someone I love so much just isn’t an option.

Have you discovered things you never knew about yourself? Positive or negative? Please share. I’m sure you’re not alone.

Love yourself first. Know your worth.

– Becca

Victim Blaming

Seeing so many loved ones trying to cope with this horrible pandemic has brought to my attention that people often blame the victim. I have found myself being quite guilty of this as well. It’s probably happening to a lot of us.

The truth is that this terrible virus can strike at any time, to anyone. You can double mask, wash your hands for half an hour and STILL get it. Nobody is immune from contracting and/or spreading it. So, why do we constantly blame the sick???

I’ve seen it in my own life. I often get asked “why do you feel so bad, you look fine” or “if you would just lose weight all of your problems would disappear”. That’s a topic that will get its’ own post in the future.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s HIV was labeled as the “gay disease”. We now know that this assumption has been completely and utterly dismantled. Yet we still have people, albeit they are fewer, who still blame people for having HIV.

It’s kind of insane, isn’t it? It’s also very infuriating. We should get angry when we hear of it happening. I have had to put myself in check lately for seeing people contracting Covid after I see them not wearing masks in pictures. It is irresponsible, still, to not wear a mask in public. But mask or not, absolutely nobody “deserves” to be sick and possibly die from Covid.

This darn virus does not discriminate. It is in our face, shredding families, depleting health and making us a group of lonely, judgmental, crappy humans sometimes.

We all need to feel love, give love and be kinder. Yes, we need to be kind to others. Yes, we need to be less judgmental. Yes, we need to be more compassionate.

During these extremely stressful, difficult times in our lives we need to spread kindness. Hug who you can safely. Tell friends and family you love and admire them.

Treat yourself to some self care activities that bring you joy. Take a moment to reflect and try to judge less and love more. We all need it.

-Becca

Self care during weight loss

As a therapist, I was used to practicing self care as needed. I would take a candlelight bath with my essential oils, diffuse oils while doing mindfulness exercises/meditation, treating my stressed muscles to a professional massage etc.

My current therapist has me reading The Self-Compassion Diet: A step-by-step program to lose weight with Loving-Kindness by Jean Fain, LICSW, MSW. What. A. Concept.

Self-compassion as part of the weight loss process? Wait a minute…what do you mean by self-compassion?? I seriously am not sure what or how that plays a role.

It makes so much common sense that when you feel good, you do good. And vice-versa. At least that’s how I tend to be. Bad food behaviors lead to self-deprecation which lead to more bad behaviors.

I’ve been reading for a few days and I’ve already caught myself, subconsciously, saying nicer things to myself. I’m beginning to start baby steps towards reframing my thinking. “You are ok. You are satiated”, I have silently whispered to myself. Or, “Be aware. Plan your meals. Know your calories” and “it’s ok Becca. You made a mistake. Don’t dwell on it. Try again”.

And you know what? It really helps!! I know right?! Who knew that when you start to treat yourself with kind words, behaviors begin to follow. I know this is just the very beginning. After all, I’m only on chapter two.

I’m committed to making the time to practice the techniques in this book. I have a feeling it will help me a lot. One day at a time. One meal at a time. One moment at a time.

I am absolutely worth more than I give myself credit for. And I’m sure you are as well! Join me on this journey. I feel it’s gonna be a hell of a ride!!

Keep up the good fight!! We got this!!

-Becca