The Damage of Insecurities

When I was younger, I never felt like I was enough. I was told that I was too fat, too mentally unstable, too dramatic, not ambitious enough. I was even compared to the neighbors’ children. I knew that I was loved, but I always felt like there was more expected from me, and when I would succeed there was still a higher expectation from me. I think feeling that way for the majority of my childhood has brought on a level of insecurity that I am now attempting to battle as an adult. 

I am not a skinny girl. The only time that I have ever been “skinny” was when I was first diagnosed with type one diabetes, and I remained “thin” for a few years after that. I can acknowledge that I have an unhealthy relationship with food. I use food as an emotional crutch, and I can easily say that I sometimes binge. I had a family member who was hyper-fixated on food, and there were always little comments made about my eating and exercising habits. While one could say that their concern was out of the goodness of their heart, it always felt like they would have rathered me to look like them rather than myself, and that was beyond hurtful and damaging. Sometimes I look at myself and I think that I am disgusting, revolting, hideous, and I just want to hide in my bed and not be seen by anyone. Then I think about how I need to limit my calorie count and exercise for hours every day, and I spend hours researching herbal remedies to help suppress my appetite and detox my body, and then I think “why can’t I just have a healthy relationship with my physical body?” When it comes to my physical being, I am either confident with what I look like or I wish that I could be a completely different person. I know we all experience some sort of body dysmorphia, but I can’t help but wonder what my insecurities and relationship with food would look like if I had a different experience growing up. 

Who I am as a person is someone who I have consistently worked on. There are a few memories that I have from growing up that have stuck with me. I remember one time I was in an argument with a parent while one of my grandparents was over, and that grandparent made some comment to my parent and they replied “I have tried to change her but she is already like her blank*.” The moment that comment left their lips I felt immediately not good enough. The person that my parent compared me to was someone that they despised, someone who they wished was completely different, and it made me doubt myself. They wanted to change me. They voluntarily admitted that they made an active effort to change me, who wouldn’t question who they were as a result? Another time where someone close to me made me doubt myself was when I was told that I would never be a success. I would never graduate from college, and essentially, I was going to be a loser. They were right about one thing, I didn’t graduate from college, but that was a choice that I had made when I discovered that there was more to life than working a 8-5 job. I figured out how to live life differently, and although I have zero regrets, the intent with their comment was made out of hostility. To insinuate that I would never be what society’s definition of success is and that I would never amount to anything caused some damage, and once again, made me question myself and what I am capable of. 

To say that I wasn’t loved by my parents would be disrespectful to them as well as untrue because I know that they have loved me for my entire life. The way that my parents showed their love was through providing, and as much as I appreciate and love them for that, who I have become today is who I chose to be, and not who they raised me to be. It would be fair to say that there has been problematic behaviors from both of my mom and dad, as well as extending family, that has affected me into my adult life. There were two people in my life who always brought me comfort, who always made me see my worth and the value that I bring to this world, and I am forever grateful to those two people. My grandma and my aunt were always the ones that I felt the safest around, and I am forever grateful for them, because otherwise I would have had a very lonely childhood. 

Due to the fact that I never felt like I got the love that I was looking for from my parents growing up, I know I have developed an insecurity with the people who are now in my life as an adult. For example, my best friend. I am constantly worried that I am not being a good enough friend to her, or that I am not doing enough for our friendship. Sometimes I worry that her relationships with other people hold more value to her than her relationship with me, and I worry that one day our friendship will end because of that. I know it stems from fear that I am not good enough, and this insecurity is one that I hate the most. I know that she and I have an incredibly special bond that is really hard to come by. We have been friends for well over a decade at this point, and we are family. But I am scared that one day she won’t be there anymore. I feel like it’s an internal battle. I know that we have a solid friendship. I know that we can have open conversations about literally anything and everything will be okay. I have trust in our friendship, and yet I need validation that everything is okay. I am even that way with my husband. If I feel even a slight shift in his energy I immediately think that I am not good enough for him and he wants to leave. I think that something is wrong and that he is no longer happy. Even after he tells me that everything is okay, I still worry. I honestly think that it stems from my best friend and my husband being the first healthy relationships that I have ever had, other than my grandma and my aunt, and I am terrified of losing that. This is something that I recognize is INCREDIBLY unhealthy, and as much as I hate to admit, on the verge of approaching codependency, and I need to learn that I can’t hold so much doubt and fear within my relationships with people. Although I feel like I am the type of person that may need more validation than the “average” person, it is unfair for me to expect those around me to provide that. 

The person that I am today is someone who I have made an active effort to evolve into. There are things about myself that I need to tweak, but that is why we are here. We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, and to say that I have learned a lot would be an understatement. Of course all of my shortcomings are not my parents fault. I take a lot of responsibility for my faults and flaws. I sometimes wish that my childhood was different, but there is nothing that I can do about my past other than use it to positively influence my present and future. Insecurities are little demons that we all have to battle, and hopefully one day mine will be a part of my past.

*Omitting name due to privacy.

Mastering the Art of Loneliness

I am a conundrum. 

There are so many aspects of myself that I question. 

Here are some examples: 

I am bisexual with a preference for women, yet here I am in a healthy, loving, committed eleven-year relationship with a man who I love more than a hobbit loves The Shire and food.

I love my family, and yet I don’t speak with them much at all.

I enjoy writing, and yet I am lacking inspiration.

But my personal favorite: 

I thrive in my alone time, yet I am starting to drown in the Lake of Loneliness. 

For years I swore off allowing others into my life, and for the most part, I still do this to this very day.

I have told myself day in and day out that my husband and my best friends were all that I needed, but then there are glitches in the matrix where I realize that I am actually lonely. 

I crave friends. 

I crave interactions.

I crave developing and maintaining relationships with others. 

And yet here I am, twenty-seven with a husband and two friends who are my family. 

The issue remains: “Am I actually lonely or do I want what others have?”

I think it is a little bit of both.

I am a difficult pill to swallow.

I am highly opinionated.

I can be clingy.

I have a million ideas and I want each one to come alive.

I don’t sugar coat things.

I ask the questions that most people don’t want to answer.

See the problem with knowing that you aren’t really likeable is knowing that you aren’t really likeable. 

My issue is that it is hard for me to put on a mask. 

Some people can hide everything that they are feeling and thinking with ease, but I just can’t do that.

I don’t like confrontation, but I also don’t like bullshit. 

As the kids used to put it: I am not fake. 

You get what you get with me. 

I also am not the type of person that trusts someone right off of the bat.

Some may say that this is a coping mechanism due to previous trauma.

Like I am building a wall against my fragile soul to protect myself from getting hurt.

But I just think it is being smart. 

I am being cautious, sure. 

But I am just being smart.

So here we are.

Faults and flaws filled to the rim. 

And I am confused by my emotions.

Do I want more friends or is this another glitch?

I think I want more friends.

I think I am done with mediocre friends though.

I don’t want acquaintances. 

I don’t want friends that I meet up for coffee with to say hi for an hour once every other month. 

No.

I want relationships.

I want a friendship where we can sit on one of our couches and have deep conversations about the world.

I want a friendship where I can trust and rely on them and vice versa.

I want a friendship where we can feel safe around each other.

Where it feels like that friendship was destined.

Like you are soulmates in the friend realm. 

I have had relationships like this, and they are beautiful.

Your life becomes a little bit better than before.

You start to smile a little more often.

But more times than not, they dwindle away.

I am over that.

I want something that lasts.

I want a true friendship. 

I have mastered the art of loneliness.

Now I want to conquer the world of relationships. 

The Monster That Hid Behind the Mask

***GRAPHIC CONTENT ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE AT RISK FOR A TRIGGER. PLEASE MOVE FORWARD WITH CAUTION.***

I close my eyes and I can visualize you perfectly. The way that you would smirk. The way that your hair fell to the side. The way that you would grab your stomach while you laughed. The way that you smelled. The way that I could feel your energy whenever I was near you. 

You had this way of making every girl fall in love with you, which was remarkable because you were never that attractive. You weren’t physically or emotionally desirable, and yet, I wanted you. I wanted to know what it would feel like to hear you say “I love you.” I wanted to feel that static that one would feel when you held hands with someone you cared about. I wanted to feel the electricity that would build up between our lips as you kissed me. 

You used to make me feel so incredibly special. I met you before I was even a teenager, and I know that the moment you saw me was the moment that I became your next target. What I thought was love was manipulation, and what I thought was good intent ended up having ulterior motives. 

I was vulnerable with you. I cried in front of you. You comforted me when I needed comfort. What I thought was safety was actually me falling into the hands of a monster. 

You see, as I grew older, I realized that those moments of sincerity were moments of secrecy. You knew what you wanted and went for it under the disguise of someone who cared. The older I have become I have realized that what I thought was you being genuine was you training me and molding me to be your next victim. You always wanted something of mine that was never meant to be yours, and you were willing to do whatever it took it take it. 

So you used your best weapons against me. I was no match against your manipulation. I was not prepared to mentally handle what was about to happen. I was too naive to decipher your words that ended up being lies. 

I was never a person to you. I was always just a body. 

Someone hurt me before you did. And I went to you after it happened. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you to find out that someone got to me before you did. Oh, how it must have angered you. You had been working on me for years, and you expected something for your efforts. 

So you decided to take your reward because you must have felt by this time it was now or never. You did things leading up to the event, testing me to see what I was willing to do. Seeing where my comfort was. I was emotionally driven by your lies, but I was nowhere near ready to take things where you wanted them to go. So you took that upon yourself. 

When I close my eyes I can feel you. I can feel your face less than an inch away from mine. I can feel your breath. I can feel my body go ice cold. I can feel my body wanting to run, but unable to move. I can feel that feeling that I felt in my stomach like I was about to be sick. I can feel the fear. The terror. I can feel your hand going up my leg in an effort to touch me. I can taste your finger going into my mouth, and I can hear you say “suck.” I can feel you grab me to touch you. I can feel and remember everything as if it were happening right now. I hate you for that. 

People assault people because they like the control. They like the game. He manipulated and trained me for years to be his puppet, and sadly, he won the game. 

I still dream of him. I still wake up with drenched in sweat. I still wake up filled to the brim with panic. 

Sometimes he slips into my mind and I just freeze. I can feel my body go ice cold. And there is nothing that I can do about it except just try to get through it. 

I am trying my best to release the grip that you have had on me for all of these years. Oh, how I have been trying. 

I hate you for what you did and who you are, but I take comfort in knowing that karma exists. Whether it is in this lifetime or the next, you will suffer as I have, and that brings a smile to my face.

Acceptance.

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There are going to be parts of you that others wish didn’t exist. 

I have spent most of my life being internally pleased with who I am. I am a complicated soul with many flaws and faults, but my positives, oh my positives, they know how to shine. 

One thing that I didn’t think would be so problematic, especially in the world that we live in today, was me announcing my sexuality. 

I would like to get one thing straight (haha, not me.) I didn’t tell everyone that I was bisexual for anyone but for myself. 

I have walked around for the majority of my life gasping for air. I had this secret, this secret that I was so ashamed of. It was this internal war where I was battling this small, minute part of who I am because I grew up in a time where being interested in the same sex was “wrong” or “disgusting” or “against the will of God.” I would have these thoughts that would literally keep me up at night in regards to my sexuality. 

“Could I actually see myself in a relationship with a woman? No that’s weird.”

“All I have ever had are boyfriends so maybe I am just straight.”

I would imagine myself living a life with a woman as my partner and I would also talk myself out of ever wanting something like that. As much as I supported the LGTBQ+ community and wanted everyone to thrive in it I couldn’t allow myself to fully accept the notion that I was apart of that community as well. 

Then one night I had an epiphany. I was bi and I had no reason to not accept that. Did it make me out to be a monster? No. Do I deserve to go to Hell? Well, first of all, I don’t believe in a Hell, but secondly, even if I did I know that I do not deserve to be punished for all of eternity just because of my sexual orientation. 

When I started telling people, and when I wrote my “Hi, I’m Bi” piece, the moment that I published it felt like the cleanest air that has ever existed entered my body. I felt lighter. I felt like I could breathe. It was magical. Sure, it is just one small part of me, but it is still a part of me. I wasn’t afraid of how people would react, I was excited that I no longer had to ignore that part of myself anymore. It took a lot of energy to pretend that that part of me didn’t exist. 

I thought that in today’s world acceptance would be a non-issue. If I could go back in time I would laugh at myself and just say “just you wait, you dumb bitch.” Has everyone supported me? HA. Fuck no. The people who I thought would text me or call me to tell me that they were proud of me or that they loved didn’t bother to bring it up. With that being said, the people who did support me REALLY supported me. I had people who I hadn’t heard from in ages tell me that they were proud of me. I had people reach out and tell me that they will always love me no matter what. I had friends tell me that it doesn’t matter, I am still the same Brookana that I have always been.

See, here is the thing. You are going to make choices and live out decisions that people who you are involved with don’t agree with. I have had someone tell me that I should have never shared my bi-sexuality publicly because there wasn’t a point. But that is the thing. There was a point, and that point was to help me. That point was to show other people like me that you don’t have to keep secrets if you don’t want to. If you want to breathe, then breathe. 

I am bi-sexual.

I am moderately tattooed and pierced.

I am opinionated. 

My religion is Wicca and I practice witchcraft.

I never finished college.

I write for a living.

I am going to attempt to open my own business.

I have been with my partner for eleven years and we have been married for four. We are both each other’s first true relationship.

I have five animals in a house that isn’t very large. 

We are actively trying for kids. 

I am sarcastic.

I don’t enjoy surrounding myself with people constantly because I get emotionally drained quickly.

I am an empath. 

I have 1,000 ideas and I want to enact every single one. 

There are so many little parts of me that a lot of people don’t understand, and that’s okay. Truthfully, the world doesn’t need to accept you. You need to accept you.

Hi, I’m Bi

Hi, I’m bi. I never, ever would have thought it a million years that I would be telling everyone about this side of me that I have hid for the majority of my life. And let me just say when I say the majority of my life, I mean it. I have known that I was into both men and women since I was in kindergarten, and ever since I came to this realization I have been having an internal war within myself. 

I felt dirty, I felt wrong, and I felt like it was shameful. I am a millennial, but for the better portion of my life I grew up in a world that looked at gay people with disgust. The world that we live in now is so different from what I grew up in. Being gay wasn’t “normal.” People couldn’t live their truth freely without opening themselves up to discrimination and hate. Because of the world that I grew up in I was terrified of coming clean about this small portion of who I was. I didn’t want my friends and family to look at me differently. I didn’t want anyone to look at me in terror and question me. I didn’t want people to think that I was different from the Brookana that they have always known. So I just did what I could to hide it. I tried to camouflage it by becoming an “ally” for the community of people that I was a part of. I was never homophobic to anyone with the exception of myself. 

Things started changing for me when I became more comfortable with myself. I have been in a relationship with a man for eleven years, and he is wonderful. But I have realized that just because I am in love with a man doesn’t mean that I am automatically “straight.” I am still bi, and I always will be bi. 

I told my husband, (boyfriend at the time,) that I was bi about fiveish years ago. He was the first person that I flatout told, and at first, he did not take it well. I think it surprised him but also made him feel uncomfortable that I was also attracted to women. After a while he got used to it and we never really talked about it again. My best friend was the second person to find out. She always kind of knew that I was curious, but she never really knew that I was actually bi until a couple of years ago. I am so lucky to have my husband and my best friend. I was terrified telling them about this side to myself, but they have been incredible. Especially my best friend. I was mostly worried about her finding out because I didn’t know how it would affect our relationship, but I should have given her more credit because our relationship is exactly the same. 

I started toying with the idea of becoming more free about it when someone that I love so incredibly much let it be known about their extreme homophobia. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I figured that now would be the time to put things in perspective. I asked them if I was into women if it would make them see me any differently or if they would stop loving me and they said no. Then I told them that I have kissed a girl before and he never knew but he has always loved me the same. It is a part of who I am, but a small part, and apparently their views are starting to change. Not too long after that conversation they asked me in front of another person if I was bi and I just froze. I lied and said that I was fluid. I was too scared. 

But now here I am. Telling my family and the rest of my friends the truth. Hi, my name is Brookana, and I am bi.

Personal Boundaries

I have this tendency to love with everything that I have. When I genuinely and sincerely care about someone I will halt my life if they need me, I will make sure that they feel fully supported by me, and I will do anything within my power to help them smile and enjoy their life. When I love I love hard, and that has never been an issue for me until recently. 

I am starting to come to terms with a new life lesson that I am still trying to learn. As much as you might care about someone, there always is that chance that they really don’t care about you at all. And that, my friends, can be difficult to accept. 

I consider myself to be an intelligent being. I consider myself to be very intuitive, and I also feel like I could be considered empathetic. Although I don’t crave a lot of relationships with others, these traits allow me to still be good with other people. I can sit there and listen for hours to someone venting and seeking out advice, I can be a shoulder to cry on when someone is seeking out sympathy, and I can usually understand why someone may feel a certain way. I am just really good with people which is incredibly ironic since I am such an introvert at heart. The thing that I don’t understand about myself is that there are a select couple of people in my life that I am willing to do anything for even though I know that they really want nothing to do with me. Well, let’s clarify that. They don’t want anything to do with me unless it is convenient for them. And I have known this for a very, very, VERY long time, but I still hold on to that hope that one day our relationship could evolve into something that I have wanted it to be. So I keep being there for these people, I keep giving them everything that I have to ensure that they know that they matter to me, and each time that happens I am met with the same feeling that I always feel at the end: disappointment. 

Albert Einstein may have had a point with this one. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

I hate myself for this. I am a smart person, and I know that each time I am there for these people nothing will come from it, and yet I still have this need for it to be the way I have always envisioned it to be. I have always wanted a solid friendship, I have wanted trust and that feeling where I could go to them for anything. I have just wanted a friend. I have started to become resentful, which is dumb because I was the one who set myself up for disappointment. I have shown these people that they could take advantage of me because no matter what I will always be there for them in the end. They know that they don’t have to inquire about me because I will always be there for them in the end. They know that they can ask me for literally anything and I will give it to them in the end. I have taught them that. My grasp on hope for this relationship took over my common sense and my intelligence, and now I am left looking like the village fool. 

So what now? Do I keep repeating this cycle? I have spoken to my therapist multiple times about this issue and we have come up with a new challenge for myself: setting up my personal boundaries. I can still care about these people, but I am no longer going to go out of my way to be there for them. I have learned that letting go of the relationship that I have wanted for so long is not an actual loss because it never existed to begin with. If they call me because they need help with something I am allowed to say no. I can say no to whatever I want because at the end of the day they want nothing to do with me unless they need me, and that isn’t a relationship, that is one person allowing another person to take advantage of them. 

Having hope can be a beautiful thing, but holding on to hope when you know nothing will ever change can be incredibly damaging. You are allowed to have boundaries, so don’t let anyone, whether it is yourself or others, tell you otherwise.

Friendships

Do you find your self worth by the number of people who are actively involved in your life? Does the number of phone numbers in your contact list define how likable you are? I used to question this frequently, but the more I have grown as a person, the more I have realized it isn’t about the amount of people I have in my life but how special my relationships are with the people that I value. 

I have never been one to have a lot of friendships. I wouldn’t say that I am necessarily a “loner,” but I do think I enjoy solitude more than the average person. I have this tendency of feeling overwhelmed when I am with people for a large amount of time, to the point where I almost feel suffocated. I find it incredibly uncomfortable and awkward to try to maintain conversations with people who I don’t know well or strangers, or even family members who I don’t have a relationship with. I know this is going to sound terrible, but I also find it anxiety inducing and off putting when people start asking me personal questions. I have recently been informed that I come across as cold to people who I don’t see very often, and although I was slightly insulted at first, after some self-reflection I have realized that that is true. I have put myself in an internal barricade that prevents others from getting in, and boy is it industrial strength.

With that being said, there are a handful of people who I cherish with every ounce of my being. Caille, my best friend, is someone who will always be a significant part of my life. We have been close for well over a decade, and I truly feel like we will be best friends until we are grey-haired sassy old ladies just counting down the days until our eventual death. She knows every little thing about me, including the number of times I defecate in a day, and I have never felt so close to anyone in my entire life. (Other than Stephen of course.) Joel is another really good friend of mine, and he is also Caille’s fiance. I have known Joel for eight years and I am so grateful that he and Caille are together because they both bring each other so much happiness. Joel is incredibly funny, logical, and I love our debates and talks. I also can fart in front of him which brings me a lot of bliss. Then of course there is Stephen, my husband, who I love so incredibly much. Stephen is my partner, my absolute best friend, and the love of my life. We laugh so hard together, we tackle hardships together, we stare in awe at our animals together, and life is just good when I am living it with him.

My friendship “group” is minute, but words cannot describe how fulfilled I am. Caille, Joel, and Stephen all bring different things into my life that fill my heart with joy. When I think about the people in my life I am able to sigh with relief because I truly don’t know what I did in my past life to deserve the friendships that I have. With how amazing these people are I have a slight suspicion that I saved a town or even a city from destruction. If you can sit back and reflect on the relationships that you have and feel like you don’t need anything else from anyone, then you know that you are fulfilled. That is how I feel. I love my family, I love and cherish my friends, and I don’t feel lonely. All the love that I could ever need is being given to me every day, and for that I am grateful. 

Now just because I am happy and fulfilled by the few people that are in my life doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek out a large amount of acquaintances or friendships, but what I think is important is to figure out who lifts you up, who you can trust, who is genuine, because those are the people that bring value and light into your life. Friendships with people who don’t value you as much as you value them should be given a second thought, because at the end of the day we involve people in our lives who have a huge impact on us and I would rather beam with joy than sulk in sadness. 

Just remember: quality over quantity.