Three Years: The Truth Will Set You Free

Three years ago today, I wrote my first post on Mindful in Style.

I had just moved to Boston and was interviewing for jobs.  Blindly moving to a city I barely knew, the guy I had met at a Mississippi treatment center picked me up from Logan Airport and helped me get settled into an Airbnb.  Three years ago today, I was afraid of telling the truth.

Interviewers would ask me why I moved.  “I like it here,” I would say.  “It’s slower paced than New York.”  My story of Boston being a “balance of Michigan and New York” only got me so far, so I would later tell them about the guy who I was “dating.”  People assumed it was a pretty serious relationship, but I smiled and shook it off as being an anchor for getting me to the city.  That was the truth.  I just left out the part about him being a heroin addict who lived with his parents.

~

Now back in Michigan, I’m still asked why I moved.  “Why did you live in New York?  What brought you back to Michigan?  What were you doing in Boston?  How was San Francisco?”  It’s as if they have never met someone who wanted new experiences in their 20’s.

I wish I could answer, “I have suffered from anxiety and depression my whole life, accompanied by a drinking problem.  Moving gave me a sense of starting over.  I enjoyed hiding from others, but most of all, myself.”

No, you can’t say that.

I’m so sick of being PC to make other people feel comfortable.

Three years ago, despite writing about my life, telling the whole truth wasn’t an option.  I wanted to appear together and sensible.  I wanted to fit in with the business people of Downtown Boston; the people with their high rise parking spot, kids in private school, and house in the suburbs.  I didn’t want people to see my struggles or to question whether I was a viable candidate, friend, or roommate.

Three years ago, I was still afraid of being me.

My resume isn’t linear, and neither is my life.  I have never been the person who would stay in an unhappy relationship, job, or living situation; I have taken control of my decisions, whether they have been rational or not.  I have done the best I can while coping with old pain, trauma, and insecurity.

Three years ago, I was still willing to fit inside a box that wasn’t meant for me.  I sugarcoated my opinions and the person I was.  I tried to write to appease people, even if it wasn’t for myself.

People often look at me and say, “you couldn’t be an alcoholic.”  I just smile.  For as long as I can remember, I have been a book cover that is continually judged.  They see a smile and red lipstick and assume everything is polished and conventional.

Three years ago, I would have been mortified if a boss or acquaintance saw my blog.  Today, I hope these people do.  I hope they realize that life is much more complex than what you can see on the outside- and that within the book they’re judging is a person who has limitless potential in a world that lives within a tiny bookshelf.

This next year, the year of 2020, I have set an intention to continue to use my voice, live fearlessly, and learn to accept that any judgment is not about me- it’s about the little bookshelf that has yet to expand their horizons.

Being back in Michigan hasn’t necessarily been easy, but this time, I don’t need to change myself- I just need to lose my expectations of what the rest of the world may think.

Here’s to the next three years.

Vulnerability is Empowerment

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” -Brené Brown

For the past three years I’ve used this blog as a journal to connect with others and document what I’m going through, what I’ve learned, and to share what inspires me.  Today I re-launched mindfulinstyle.com as a place to empower women to feel beautiful, inside and out. Through storytelling, journaling, and discovering your authentic style, my hope is to inspire others to own their story- no matter what other people may say about it.

I wasn’t always comfortable with being vulnerable, though.

For many years, I played chameleon and hid my insecurities.  I wasn’t open and honest about my fears, my alcoholism, and I certainly didn’t know how to own my shortcomings.  I played the victim and avoided people who hurt me- and those who I hurt, too.

Instead of letting the opinions of others get the best of me, I learned to take back my narrative and take responsibility for my past; for my past no longer defines me.  It’s made me the person I am today- the person who has overcome her challenges and is finally living out the life I always wanted to live.

Mindful in Style has helped me feel content in my own skin, and moving home to Michigan has been symbolic of no longer running from myself. Whether it’s helping women find their voice, their passions, or their personal style, I’m excited to see where Mindful in Style can go.

No One Can Define My Sobriety (Or Life) But Me

It’s no surprise to most people when I tell them I don’t drink.

Whether they’ve seen me out of control in the past or have read my articles, I am finally open about being sober these days- and that’s a breath of fresh air.

I’ve made mistakes, though.

There have been many relapses (or “slips,” as some may say) since deciding to get sober in 2011, including a full two and a half years where I went back to drinking consistently.  I damaged relationships and racked up many, many new stories during that period of time, yet I learned a lot about myself- and what I do and don’t want out of life.

I went back to drinking several times while living in Boston, racked up even more stories, and learned that a structured recovery program gives me more anxiety than it does comfort and strength.  Although community helps many people, I am more of a one-on-one type of person.  I believe in therapy, working on yourself, and taking responsibility for your actions.

This may be controversial, but this is my truth:

I don’t want or need entities or other people to determine the quality of my sobriety.

I’m the only one who has to determine what is best for my life- and I want people to judge who I am based on my character, not my sobriety date.

I have a serious issue with groups who judge or push others to open up about things to they don’t want to.  There is no “one size fits all” method for anything in life, and putting down the booze is no different.  I have put so much pressure on myself over the years and have had immense anxiety about what other people think of me- but I am done with that.  

I’m honest with my family, good friends, and even strangers online- and that works for me.

There are several friends of mine who aren’t “in recovery” who have told me the same thing- that I don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself. “You don’t drink now,” two of them said. “That’s all you need to say.”

Below is something my friend of 22 years texted me yesterday:

Amen.

It’s also no one else’s business if I am on a prescription, if someone has Medical Assisted Treatment, or what “date” someone put down the drink.

It’s my life, not theirs.

People have the option to do what works for them.  For me, it’s connecting with people who are healthy and aligned with my spirit.  It’s nature, writing, and self discovery.  It’s mediation and mindfulness.  It’s been open and honest about who I am and what I stand for.  It’s living in my truth, and living a spiritual life of reflection and growth.

I hope my own journey can inspire someone who go on their own journey, no matter what way it may lead.

Never let anyone make you feel bad about choosing your path- you know what’s in your heart and in your soul.