Remember… “You signed up for this”

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 5-26-2023

“How many people can say that they know the look in a person’s eyes who is already dead? Mind made up. Ready to go to heaven. Ready to end it all, and then he did. I will never not blame myself.” -EaE

Everyone asks me why I wrote my first book that was published in July of 2021; Unseen: Uncovering the Invisible wounds of Military trauma. My textbook answer is that I did not like what I had seen so far with the military/ veteran trauma literature. I also hated most of the war movies that I watched after my Afghanistan deployment. And why do I hate the war movies? My textbook answer is that they do not portray PTSD accurately, and they do not portray military and veteran struggles accurately. This is all true, and I still stand by it. But let me give you a more real and raw answer. I hate war movies, because war is NOT entertaining after you have been to war. War, is seeing all of the most ugly and horrific things that humans can do to each other. And then, coming back home from war is hearing an endless tirade of nonempathic people telling you: “Well, you signed up for it.” Or “You know what you signed up for….”. News Flash! A 17-21 year old barely adult (I was 18 when I enlisted and 21 going on 22 when I deployed), does not know what they are signing up for. There is a reason the military recruitment strategy goes for that age range… and if you have not figured it out by now, then just think about it really hard for a few minutes.

Another Memorial Day is about to come and go. There will be people that suffer through the memories of those they have lost. Men and women that have died in battle, men and women that have died by suicide after being exposed to insurmountable trauma and mental illness. People that have served will remember them. People that have stood by their loved ones that have served will worry about them. And then, there will be people having vacations and BBQ’s while wishing people a “Happy memorial day” and sometimes mistaking it for Veterans Day… which isn’t until November. Meanwhile the Military & Veteran suicide rates continue to rise, yet again. The once ‘awful’ VA medical systems are even more awful after the pandemic, which makes getting healthcare and mental healthcare take even longer. All the good Providers are leaving, they are burnt out after attempting to be the backbone of a ‘broken system’.

Why do People enlist or Commision into the Military?

It’s best not to make assumptions. I will list a variety of reason’s people may choose to sign up for the potential horror that is the Military.

  • They are poverty stricken (studies indicate the one theme that rings true for enlistees is many are in lower socioeconomic brackets).
  • They are terrified of going broke due to the economy & inflation so they decide to serve for the stability that is offered with the Military & Veteran benefits.
  • They are coming from ‘Broken homes’; Abuse & domestic violence traumas that lead them to flee out of desperation.
  • They may want a deeper sense of meaning/ purpose and believe they can find it by serving their country and others.
  • Their Family members have served and they are already accustomed to the culture of living on base and/ or traveling a lot.
  • They are bored and adrenaline hunting, or perhaps curious about the Military lifestyle and wanting to test themselves.
  • They’re self destructive and potentially facing incarcaration if they continue down a path of ‘too much freedom’ that leads them to make poor life choices. (And there have been cases in U.S. history where people were given only two choices: jail or military)

No, we do not know what we signed up for though

You cannot know something until you live it. I think we can all agree on that. People do not know what marriage feels like until they are married. A person does not know what parenting is like until they become a parent. A person will not know what college is like until they go to college. So of course, a person does not know what military service feels like until they are in the military. No exceptions. “You knew what you were signing up for” is never true, because before you signed up for it, how could you know? You had an idea of it. You may have had some ‘third party knowledge’ based off what other people told you. But, you did not know. Do not feel guilty for enlisting and hating a career that you could not predict. And, what makes the military harder than almost anything else in this world? The fact that once you’re in, there is no turning back. You must live that sacrifice you made to the fullest, while other’s get to control the narrative of you life.

They can station you anywhere, they can put you with any coworkers they want, they can decide ‘no you are not being harrassed by your leadership’ even if you are. They can withhold orders to another duty station. They can deploy you in week’s notice to a foreign country of their choosing. They can make you work for extreme periods of time with no overpay. They can wake you up in the middle of the night and raid your barracks room without a warrant; just off of a ‘hunch’ that some commander has based on rumors. They can make you stand for hours in extreme heat until you pass out. They can make you get back to work right after you saw death before your very eyes. They can make you work through grief and trauma; as a matter of fact they usually insist that you do. They can withhold your vacation leave no matter how desperate you are for a break. You cannot complain about any of it. You cannot quit, quitting and running away (AWOL) could mean prison time. That’s the true entrapment right there. Over the years, I have heard many people counter these hardships with arguments about ‘how their job is so hard too’. But, the bottom line is, a civilian can quit. A military member cannot. We sign up hoping for the best, and never being able to fathom just how bad it can get.

“Happy Memorial Day…???”

I have written a blog a couple of years ago already that stated a fact: It is NEVER a Happy Memorial day. So what can you say instead? To Military members and Veterans? I would suggest: “I am sorry for your loss if you happened to have lost anyone, and if you need anything I am here”. Because that is what a Memorial truly is. It is remembering those that have fallen. It is respecting and honoring the fallen, as well as being there for those that grieve them. Remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice.

Mommy Dearest

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 5-15-2023

We take for granted the things we have always had, that we never had to lose. In this case, it does not feel like a privilege, but a ‘right.’ But, it’s never a right. We are entitled to nothing.

I have a recollection of puzzle pieced memories as a toddler. My life was very much fragmented, as I spent years in what can be referred to as ‘kinship foster’. But, it wasn’t formal or by the books. It was a decision that my biological mother made after she divorced my Dad and was granted full custody. To drop my brother and I off at random people’s homes while she took off for days or weeks at a time. A toddler doesn’t know very much at all. I just knew that I missed my Dad (USMC and always working), I missed my Mom (Why did she always have to leave?), and I did not know these strangers very well. Sometimes it was distant family, sometimes it was random ‘friends’ of hers. Were they happy people? No. Most of the time they seemed angry/ agitated at our existence. I mean, who wants to look after kids that arent’ theres? Some of them had their own kid’s to feed and take care of.

Sometimes our mother did give it her best. But, her best fell short. My brother and I fed ourselves when she was passed out in drug comas. We were exposed to a lot of things early that kid’s should not be exposed to due to lack of supervision, especially when we were left with strangers. The only time our Mom stuck around was when we were living with a new boyfriend of hers. Of course, her ‘picker was broken’ as they say in the mental health world. They were rarely good men, none of them were our father. One of my Mom’s boyfriends liked to physically abuse me. I believe he was a drug addict too, I feared him. He would hit, pinch, pull my hair while he appeared to be in ‘a daze’. When My mom walked in on this one day, I did catch a glimpse of what looked like ‘Mom instinct’. She confronted him, he denied everything as I recalled what he did to me. My brother recalls that when she dipped out on him in the middle of the night she pulled a fat stack of cash from his wallet.

When my Dad finally found us (this was before cell phones so it wasn’t exactly an easy mission for him while he was serving in the USMC), our Mom relinquished custody. My grandmother stepped up and offered to help, as my Dad could not single parent a 5 y/o (me) and an 8 y/o (My bro) while serving Active duty. So, off we went to Grandma’s. What our father assured us would be ‘a few months’ turned into five years. Living with grandma and Uncle. I actually saw my Mom only a few more times after this. Once in TX, once in AZ, once in CA, and then once again in AZ, on her death bed. Everytime was awkward and heart breaking. It always appeared that she was trying to be someone she was not (A domesticated lady), and eventually she would sprint away to her safe haven, yet again. And in her absence people assured me it wasn’t her fault or my own, it was ‘the drugs’. Honestly, people just didn’t know what to say. Especially on my Dad’s side, as most of the women have strong motherly instincts. So they could not understand my Mom at all.

I went from heartbroken to numb. By the time I was 11 going on 12 it was full on anger and then numb. When you cannot have someone, but you also cannot bear to miss them any longer, you go numb. What else can you do? You can’t make someone stay that does not want to stay. I believe that my mother had post partum depression along with other mental illnesses from her childhood. And of course, there was no denying she was a drug addict. Alcohol, meth, heroine and perhaps even more. I know she was abandoned by her parents at least once or twice and had to stay with other relatives. I know both of her parents were alcoholics too. Then to put the cherry on top, being a military spouse is insanely hard. I believe she was living a lifestyle that wasn’t meant for her.

Then at the age of almost 12, I inherited a stepmother. She was the polar opposite, she was extremely attentive, extremely in our business. Always there, always present. Sometimes to a point she drove us crazy. We had ups and downs. But, no matter how much we did not get along sometimes, one thing I reminded myself of always was “Your Mom refuses to be with you, she (Stepmom) is here, and she is doing what your Mom never did for you”. A villege raised me and my brother, and my stepmom was the last one in the picture before we became adults, but I like to think she helped fine tune my personality. She held me to what felt like impossible standards, but at the end of the day, I proved her right. I could be everything she believed I could be.

I spent my life secretly knowing that eventually I would get a call about my Bio Mom on her death bed. And it happened when I was just 20 years old. I remember thinking I would have this whole speech prepared. A speech of confrontation and anger. But when I saw her dying, all the anger went away. Why the hell would I want to confront her in her final days? Instead my Brother and I shared our life stories with her, and our future aspirations. She did smile wiht pride. I think it helped her to know that we ended up being okay, despite the damage she may have caused.

I have many triggers because I have PTSD. But one trigger on this topic, is people that are not grateful to their mothers. Especially when their mother’s are actively present, and have always been there, for better or worse in sickness and in health. People like to think that it’s ‘not a choice’, and parents must parent. But then again, there are many foster kids and orphans in the world still. There are many kid’s that come from broken homes and rarely get to see one if not both of their parents. People take for granted what they always got to have. It feels like a ‘right’, but honestly, its just plain luck. What cards did you get dealt? Maybe you hit the ‘good parent lotto’. Or maybe, your parents never wanted you and tossed you away without a care in the world.

Mother’s Day is always a day that I try to numb out. I usually get engrossed in other projects. My mother died in August of 2010. And i’ve spent the last 13 years dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions. It angered me, how even my closest friends could not acknowledge that this loss hurt me. I’ve even had some people believe that ‘because we were not close, that it must not be that bad’. In retrospect, I had to grieve my Mom before she died, and I had to grieve for her again after she died. Because she was actively killing herself for many years. With the lifestyle she lived, the lifestyle I had because of her, and the loss, it led to a lot of unanswered questions. Why did she leave? Why did she rarely come back? Why wasn’t I enough? Could I have done more? Could they have done more? Could we have been a family? How different would my life have been? Could something have prevented this? Will I be the same as her? (One of the many reason’s I do not want kids, is because I do not want to find out)

I don’t want to mess up anyone’s Holiday, Mother’s should be celebrated. Especially the good/ present/ attentive ones! But I have to admit, when I see those meme’s/ posts with the words “There is no love like a Mother’s Love”….. OUCH! This is not everyone’s truth. I wish it could be, but it’s not. For those of you that had a Bio Mom’s love and attention for most of your life, give her the gratitude she deserves. And for those, like me, that were abandoned by their Mom, but were able to get their parenting elsewhere, show those bonus parents your Love. Happy Mother’s Day to my Stepmom and Gram; the ladies that raised me for the longest periods of time. And to my Half brother’s Mom! (For teaching me about the uncomfortable topics when no one else was around) Happy Mother’s Day to my Boyfriends Mom & Grandma too. 🙂 And I am grateful to my Bio Mom for giving birth to me, and for the small slivers of time we had together, you did have a way of making me smile.

The Veterans Club Podcast

Click link below to watch the full episode

I sat down with LJ Haywood and other veteran panelists to discuss the stigma associated with mental health in the military and veteran population. We also highlighted some excerpts from my book Unseen: Uncovering the Invisible wounds of military trauma. To order click on link below:

Work Work work work work

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 4-29-2023

It recently occurred to me that I have not yet written a blog specifically on the topic of how our stressful work lives/ environments factor into our deteriorating mental health. This is an important topic! As we often spend 40+ hours at our job’s week after week, month after month, year after year. I’ve had some debates regarding the U.S. workforce in the past… is 40-50 hours too much? It often depends on the type of work, as well as the workers personal mental health history. It also depends on whether or not they have physical disabilities as well. Then, it also depends on what is going on in their personal lives’ outside of work. Since I’ve worked primarily with military, veteran and military spouse populations, this adds a unique layer as well; deployments, traveling every 2-3 years, long extended missions out of state etc. I also must mention, the covid pandemic added yet, another layer of work stress. All of a sudden people had to figure out how to survive after being laid off in a moment’s notice. Or, find out how exactly they are supposed to work from home while also assist their kid with homeschooling. As a social worker, there was no way I was prepared for all of this. Yet, we were expected to continue working as essential employees, during a time where mandated social policies were forcing everyone into crisis mode/ acute stress reactions.

Managing your mental health when you’re a full-time worker

Toxic work environment Red flags– What to look out for when you are job hunting… a very large red flag are jobs that have high turnover rates. Sad, anxious and angry employees leave fast. I once interned at a clinic that had 4 people resign within one month, one of those people literally resigned after 4 days of working. So when the time came for me to job hunt for my first career post college, that was a very certain NO. Many people have also mentioned jobs that do not list pay and often avoid the topic of pay throughout the interview process… also a red flag. I one time had four interviews before I was hired by a Non profit in NYC. Throughout the entire process, pay was not mentioned. Then when HR finally said I was ‘hired’, I asked for the pay. It was pitiful. When I asked for a little bit more, they lied and said they would let me know. They never messaged or called me back, but instead hired someone else as fast as lightning. This indicates that this company does not care about quality workers, rather, they want someone that will work hard for little pay. Work sections with sexual, verbal, physical harassment, racism, homophobia, sexism, agism and so on…. NO. Work sections with a ton of gossip and passive aggressiveness, also a NO. This indicates a lot of resentment over time; and bad morale is contagious.

Boundaries & Self Advocacy– Whenever social workers ask me what type of curriculum do I wish there was more of in social work school, I always say without a doubt, more classes about boundaries and self advocacy. People love to throw around the terms, but rarely do they ever explain how to put this into action in a real life scenario. When people are new at a job, they want to make a good impression, they want to stay out of trouble, they often want to earn their keep. New workers are extra vulnerable toward being groomed for a toxic work environment, or a toxic grind/ hustle culture that can lead to burnout. They are extra susceptible to being taken advantage of. And don’t even get me started on new military members! A large part of self advocacy is making it clear/ communicating what amount of work leads you to feeling burnout. And a large part of boundaries includes being able to say no, reminding people you are on your break, and understanding that not everything you are tasked with is at the same priority level. Boundaries can also include delegating work as needed; no one should be doing everything. It’s also important to NOT enable the lazy worker, or the victim worker that often acts ‘helpless’. Even if someone is a slow learner, we do them a disservice by doing their work for them, and we will suffer in the long run. My main form of boundaries/ self advocacy with my current job was to insist on no more then ten patient slots a day; they tried to push me for 12. No No No No No.

Job Switching as Needed– Gone are the days of picking 1 career and sticking with it for 25 to 35 years in order to retire. Not that there is anything wrong with that, if you find something you love, and you can tolerate it for that long, that’s amazing! It’s not the rule anymore, more like the exception. Will we (Millennial & GenZ generations) have retirement pensions that could help us afford the increased cost of living? Are we willing to suffer through a job long enough to even find out? I don’t believe in urging anyone to stay in a position that they hate. Especially if it’s deteriorating their mental health or destroying their personal life along with it. And, since technological advancements, working from home opportunities, and entrepreneurship have given us more options, we don’t have to settle. We can, maybe, find something we are passionate about. Or, we can find a job that happens to respect the limitations of our mental illnesses. We don’t have to suffer to make money, per say. Job switch when you are miserable, explore, learn yourself, learn what works for you. Life’s too short to suffer miserably in a career you hate for decades.

Making the Most of your time off– What do many people do when they get home from a hard day? If you are zoning out into a screen all evening, eating junk, while dreading the next day, your mental health will likely suffer more. This was me for many years. I still do it… sometimes. But mental health teachings remind me that that type of routine is not a balanced one. I stumbled across a YouTube channel on micro adventures a few years back. This man encourages people to ‘no longer live in the 9-5 world, but rather, live in the 5-9 world. As in, live for your time after work, don’t’ let work be the center of all your worries and build mini adventures during that time off. I couldn’t agree more. I love little road trips and adventures, while I also love to have some down time to do ‘nothing’. No longer should we feel guilty for having the human need to rest both our bodies and brains too. If you work hard, you need to play hard and rest hard. I took that concept of micro adventures and also started to use it in other areas of my life. Micro dose adventures, and drugs, and chores, and workouts, and intimacy, and cheap entertainment. If we do not have a plan of action after work, we may get lost in a vacuum (screen) and lose all sense of time and goals. Now a days, I tell myself to try to do at least 2 or 3 things an evening out of the following list: Workout, cook, chores, sex, write, sing, or TV. No specific time pressure’s, just remain conscious and productive… sometimes. Stay balanced and live with less regret.

Work is NOT your life, your purpose, or your entire identity– I’ve worked with some clients that spent their entire lives ‘living for their work’ and becoming addicted to work. Most commonly, this issue manifests due to a desperate need for emotional avoidance or escapism from a life they are not happy with outside of work. It can also manifest due to heavy societal pressures to produce and consume at rapid rates. They also have obligatory thought patterns that plague their brains: “I should”, “I must”, “I need to”, “I have to”, “I’m lazy If I do not do….” etc etc. Unfortunately, when they near retirement they appear to be having an ‘Existential Crisis’ so to speak. Who will they be now? After work is gone? No more distraction while they live with what surrounds them outside of their job and whatever exists in their head that they cannot get a grip on. This is the unfortunate reality of a person that allowed work to become their entire purpose and identity. They were unable to nurture other aspects of their lives such as: family, friends, relationships, fun hobbies. They were unable to nurture their body, mind and soul as it deserved to be nurtured. They are not a whole or balanced human. They lived on autopilot with fear controlling the majority of their actions. Work is important… it pays the bills, it helps you learn and grow. Sometimes it is even fun and joyful, but it is not your entire life.

Learning the Art of Love

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 3-28-2023

Unconditional love is for kids. Grownups need conditions. If you surrender all your love without conditions, it means you don’t have love for yourself.’ -EaE

He felt like my favorite coffee right next to a warm fireplace that never went out. If that makes any sense at all…. just pure comfort and ease.‘ -EaE

Why is love an art more than it is a science? Perhaps because it is just as much about actions as it is about feelings… perhaps maybe even more about action than anything else. I am NOT a Marital therapist. I never have been and I never will be. Anyone that knows me, knows that. I refuse to listen to married couples bicker all day about ‘who’s right’ and ‘who’s wrong’. I grew up in a world of witnessing unhealthy relationships. Only to become one of those people that would go through my own unhealthy relationships. I have seen and/ or directly experienced domestic violence, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, malnourishment, substance abuse, suicidal threats, abandonment and more. I feared love. In actuality, I feared the only love that I ever saw: unhealthy/ toxic love. I always feared marriage. ‘It’s a trap!” My father, oddly enough, taught me to be the type of woman he never wanted: independant. Someone that does not need to rely on another person, someone that does not allow their fate be determined by anyone else. Being taught that love is ‘unhealthy’, and being taught to ‘fear it’, led to me self sabotaging every situationship/ relationship, right from the start. Ruining it before it even get’s started. Pushing away love is what the abandoned/ neglected do. It’s the ultimate test of ‘who is actually going to stay?’ Especially when times get hard.

I learned too much ‘the Hard way’

Sometimes I wonder, could I have appreciated the healthy love that I have right now, had I not endured so much toxic love? I don’t know that I could have. I believe in social conditioning, I believe in the nurture factor. I am a social worker after all. I have seen many of my friends that have grown up in stable families go on to have long marriages with kids. And I have seen myself and my friends and clients with ‘not so stable upbringings’ go onto have tremendous difficulty with relationships. We are modeled ‘the art of love’. Some people love in the ‘crazy and twisted way’ they learn how to love. For some people, love is angry and desperate. For other’s, love is steady and calm. It took roughly 32 years for me to understand that I do NOT want Toxic love anymore. With relationships and friendships. I was finally done. And when that switch flipped, I truly mean that it flipped. Something in my brain changed forever in an instant. When I made the definitive decision that there are worse things in the world ‘than being abandoned and being alone’ … that’s when everything truly changed. It meant that I could have non negotiables. It meant that I could finally decide that enough is enough. It meant I could say “No you are not for me” or “I am clearly not for you’ and then…. BYE. It was quite empowering, and then it made room for me to take my time… and become selective about who I choose to let in my space.

If you don’t know yourself, you are not ready for commitment

Here is something so blantantly obvious and yet I did not know until I knew. If you don’t know who you are, how can you know what type of person is good for you? You can’t! If you are not in tune with your love language, your wants, your needs, your attractions, your personality traits etc etc, you cannot pick a partner that is compatible for you… again, because you do not know you. Most kids, teens, and young adults do not know themselves. And some even less than others if they grew up in controlling environments. I must add that going straight from HS to the military did not help; the military gives you your identity. They don’t nurture/ foster your sense of individuality.

I’ve recently created a couple of lists that my followers have found helpful while journeying toward finding love and/ or sustaining their loving relationships. So whether or not you are dating casually or in a commited relationship, here’s some things to consider:

Things you cannot know right away when dating someone new:

  • whether or not they are loyal
  • whether or not they are truly kind
  • whether or not they have good intentions
  • whether or not they are consistent
  • whether or not they are compatible with you
  • whether or not they are honest
  • whether or not they have true work ethic

These are qualities / characteristics that must be proven over time. Talk is cheap as they say. Daily, consistent actions will be the best proof of charactor. I made this because a friend of mine had recently met someone, and within two weeks said they liked them because ‘they were kind, loyal, generous and honest’. I cautioned this friend with a question of “How can you possibly know all of this yet?” You can’t. Because to know that someone is kind, you must see how they interact with you and others over time, especially when they are not in ‘a great mood’. For one to prove they are loyal, they must stay loyal over time especially when given the opportunity to be unloyal. For one to prove they are honest, they must consistently tell the truth and ‘not lie’ over time. In general, all that we really now when we meet someone new is:

  • whether or not we are attracted to them on a physical level
  • whether or not their personality traits excite us, or bore us
  • whether or not we like how they present themselves/ talk
  • whether or not we approve of the type of job/ money they make and/ or the resources that they have aquired.

Now, for the relationships. After working with many individuals and hearing many grievances about their significant others: Here is what is often lacking in relationships that can build resentment over time: TAG!

  • Teamwork- working as a team, because after all, you’re in a relationship. This is a daily practice that get’s neglected often. Between the jobs, chores, errands, kids etc etc, are you balancing it all out together? Do you have an agreeable plan that works for all parties involved? If this verbal contracted needs to be renegotiated, can it be done in a safe and nonjudgemental way?
  • Accountability- When someone makes a mistake, can they admit it? And then, can they correct it? The situation can either get met with defensiveness, (ego) or conflict resolution (emotional maturity). This does not just include our actions, it also includes our emotional reactions.
  • Gratitude- Do you praise your partner? Do they praise you back? Do you and they remember to give each other credit where credit is due? Or did one or all parties forget? Are you or they only focusing on what you or they bring to the table and forgetting everything else? Gratitude often comes in the form of words of affirmation or small acts of service over time.

Notice that no where on this list do I put communication. I don’t know about everyone else, but growing up I was pretty damn tired of hearing everyone preach communication. Communication! Communicate! All relationships need is communication. That’s not only inaccurate, but quite laughable for someone like me who was with people that were anywhere on the spectrum of being ‘selfish’ to being a full blow narcissist. Guess what? There’s some people that you can communicate with until you are blue in the face and passed out. And they will not LISTEN or do anything to make you happy. If you lack ‘TAG’, then you do NOT have a relationship, you have a zombieship. It’s lopsided, and it will either lead to a miserably ever after story, or it will end badly.

Love is only enough if BOTH or ALL people love each other

There will be no perfect relationship. That is true. But do not take the concept of ‘there is no such thing as a perfect relationship’ and confuse it with “I should just put up with anything for the sake of love’. Healthy love only exists when two or more parties are all in it for love. Meaning their motive is TO LOVE and continue LOVING through actions. Relationships exist for many reason’s, and there are many relationships that are ‘not about love at all’. Some are for financial gain, some are for status, some are for desperation, some are for identity and purpose. Some are for the sake of having a maid. (Been there done that) If we want to know that we will be loved by someone, the single most important question I believe we need to ask ourselves is “Does this person intend on loving me?” NOT “How much money do they make?” NOT “Will they look good in pictures standing next to me?” NOT “Oh my god my friends are all getting married and maybe it’s my time now?” Do you love them, and do they intend on loving you back? And this answer only comes with repeated loving actions over time. No matter what, love is also, and always will be a gamble too. GOOD LUCK to ALL (Except my Ex)

Mental Health Internet “Experts” Part 4

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 3-20-2023

It’s been a while, but I have collected another bundle of “bad internet advice” quotes to debunk. The social media world is a never ending cesspool of poorly written advice!

In many cases, when people vent about their emotions or mental health symptoms, they aren’t making excuses. They are sharing. Mental traumas, grievances, illnesses aren’t “excuses”, they are reasons. Mental and medical conditions can cause life long limitations we must pay attention to. If neglected, we are extra prone to burnout, or a mental breakdown.
I truly wish this was the case. But think about the many people that have suffered due to a society full of homophobia, and/ or communities plagued with racism… and/ or sexism. Some people feel the need to go into hiding to survive this type of hatred. Be you, will the world adjust fully? Not necessarily. You may have to suffer through ignorance and prejudice.
Certainly, perception and thoughts do play a part. But there are most definitely people that are capable of hurting us. Imagine I fed this quote to someone in a situation of domestic violence? “Just don’t feel harmed”… meanwhile their spouse is beating on them. Don’t feed people delusions and fake neutrality/ positivity.
This picture and caption is implying that because this celebrity (or others in general) lost weight, he is “problem less”. Looks don’t tell the whole story. And I have yet to work with a single patient that was cured simply because of a diet, a habit change or removing someone from their life. The healing process is a journey, not a band aid.
This is faulty in that there is no one size fits all cure. And there are many medical and mental ailments that would get exacerbated by fasting: diabetes/ bulimia/ anorexia/ heart disease/ abnormal blood pressure/ postpartum stressors(especially while breast feeding)
1- let’s not pretend we know something we cannot understand. If you have not completed suicide, you don’t know why other people have. 2- “life is too much or you don’t understand it?” That’s quite the oversimplification of such a complex issue. I have researched findings leading up to suicide completions, and worked with many clients that have struggled with suicidal thoughts. They are strong people dealing with a multitude of complex biopsychosocial factors.
It sounds like Shakespeare likes to use the defense mechanism of comparison to keep himself more “positive”. But I can state with confidence that there are people in this world that will have it better, and there will be people who have it worse. And it has very little to do with how someone may feel in the moment when they are personally dealing with tragedy. All emotions are valid. All humans are capable of hurting and feeling a wide array of emotions. Comparing doesn’t cure mental illness.

The Favor Bank

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 3-10-2022

“You’re welcome, for all the shit I did for you that you forgot to say thank you for.” -EaE

If there’s one emotion that caught me off guard and left me feeling very uncomfortable and unsettled, I would have to say it was my rage. Because by my early thirties I was spit out of, yet again, another tornado of hurt. And when the dust cleared I had to accept some very disturbing facts about the people that I thought were ‘closest to me’. People in my life that left me feeling used, abused, manipulated, taken for granted etc. Aquintances, old classmates, friends, best friends, exes, old coworkers, supervisors, some family members… when will it end? I needed a term that described how I felt in general… like…. ‘a Favor bank’. Yes that’s it! People love to use me for favors, and I in turn become resentful. Why? They think I’m well off? They think I’m a pushover? They think I have an abundance of kindness? They think I have an endless suppy of emotional energy and resources? Why couldn’t I say no? Why was the hardest thing in the world, for me, the idea of someone feeling let down because I could not give them what they wanted? Why always choose others over myself?

I’m going to talk about the harm other’s have done toward me. But, I am fair. I do not believe I am morally superior, I will also talk about the mistakes I made, and the lesson’s I learned. I can admit now, that underneath my layers; there are deep wounds. I began to admit, out loud, that fear led me to most of my life choices. Fear of always having depression, fear of feeling worthless forever, fear of never being loved, fear of ‘never amounting to anything’, fear of screwing up my life with major decisions; therefore some risks weren’t worth taking at all. (Marriage & kids for example) As I open up about these insecurities and vulnerabilities going forward, I realize people can actually see me for who I am, and then they can treat me like a person, vs a favor bank.

Last year one of the best books I read: Ego is the Enemy by Robert Holiday. I went into the book with an open mind, but I did not believe it applied to me much. After all, how is my ego out of control? I’m the giving one. The nurturer, the pushover. I’m the one that was always able to walk away from almost every fight and swallow my pride. But through that book, I was able to see where my ego came into play. When I give and expect something back, and get upset when I get nothing…. that is ego. When I put my heart and soul into a relationship and expected that I could ‘fix someone and change them’, and got angry that it bit me in the ass… that was ego. When I was so hurt by coworkers, I went the passive aggressive route vs risk the vulnerability of an honest conversation about how I felt… ego. Now that I’ve had these lesson’s, I thought it best to look back at some of the most hurtful situations and see how I could have handled it better. Because after all, I am only ever in control of me. I also hope to give important moral lesson’s through the pain I have experienced. All humans have the capacity to grow and improve; we should strive to.

When People Only want me for money Many people are struggling, and this leads to desperation. I get that. And I do believe that when I have a little bit left to give, I will give as long as it doesn’t hurt me. But it isn’t just about the money. It’s more so, about the behaviors. It is quite frustrating that there were some people that only ever contacted me because they needed money. There were people that as soon as they got the money, they unfollowed or unfriended me. (perhaps their own ego & shame) There were some that got so used to the idea of me ‘providing for them because I liked them’, that they started to expect money, or that I buy them things all the time. The worse thing for me, isn’t the money I’ll never see again, what really caused me rage is the lack of gratitude. I am a lot more selective about this, and the fact of the matter is: I will cut it off. I’m not a gravy train, and I’m MOST certainly NOT rich!

When People only want me for free therapy Being a therapist and having that be known in any type of public setting, has it’s risks. I’ll start by simply saying, no one wants to be at work ’24/7′. You wouldn’t ask a repair man to fix something for free right.. while they are on their day off? You wouldn’t ask a teacher to come tutor your kid for free right? You wouldn’t expect your barber to give you free hair cuts? Therapists do not want to give you free Therapy. Therapists do not enjoy ‘being in therapy mode’ all day long. Therapists are human. Therapists need time away from work to recharge. Therapists are also, not allowed to give therapy to their friends and family, it is considered unethical. But I’ve been asked for so much ‘free advice’ both online and in person, I imagine I’ve done at least 1K hours worth of “Pro Bono” work. My ego is at fault here too. I enjoyed it at first, when I was young and full of energy. It gave me a sense of self worth. But now? No way, it’s exhausting.

When People only wanted me to Love them I believe at this point I may be known as the girl that enters very serious long term relationships that eventually combust into flames. I’m hoping to not repeat this cycle. So, after my last break up, I dated casually for a chunk of time. My ego was especially out of control when it came to any type of intimate connections. Because of my hurt, my rage most likely bled onto new people. But in all fairness, I was used a lot. Love was never a game that I was good at ‘playing’ so to speak. When we love with fear, we will likely not enter something that is safe. Luckily for me, I did get smarter. I learned that it was better to stay true to my Non negotiables vs cave to the pressure of a man for attention, affection or fake love. I began to use my intuition vs ignore it. If the new situationship did not feel recipricol, I could drop it like a New years Resolution. I no longer had a fear of abandonment, I refused to. Because I saw in the past how badly that got me used/ hurt. Standards and boundaries are necessary in the quest to find a true healthy and loving relationship.

When People only want me as their punching bag We all have those friends that insult us more than they praise us. That use us more than they give. And we get to a point where we question why? ‘Why do you keep me around and yet treat me so poorly? Do you even like me??’ Well, it’s likely their fragile ego coming into play. Some things never change. Much like the bully in the schoolyard that picks on others, but deep down we all know they go home crying and feeling inadequate. Some hurt people, hurt people. Some learn that if they abuse others, they feel elevated. Yet, it’s not a healthy way to go about things, but that is the only tool at the disposal of the ‘insecure and abusive’ types. I can spot them from a mile away now. Any indication of this behavior, I block and run. I know better, I’ve suffered through this for more years than I care to admit. Clinging to a false belief that “If I just try hard enough”, this person will get better, heal, and treat me fairly. Never again.

When People only want me for free education Between an education in clinical social work, a military career behind me, and a couple of published books, people come to me with questions. First off, I love educational conversations. As long as it is recipricol. I love talking to other entrepreneurs and professionals, I understand the importance of networking. I love brain storming strategies in which we can both uplift each other in our professional endeavors. This is what I ask: “Do not come for something, if you do not already have something you can give back in return.” Because after all, that is what a relationship is supposed to be… (A healthy one anyways!) recipricol! I post your business, you post mine, I give you info on how I went about publishing or becoming a social worker, you give me info on something I need to learn more about. Some people believe they can ‘piggy back’ off of the success of others. Life doesn’t work that way. You build yourself up by investing in yourself as well as other people. Nothing is free.


So you may be wondering, ‘why the hell would anyone let people treat them like this for so long?’ That’s just stupid. Well it goes back to ego and trauma wounds. Regardless of the fact that in many cases I gave people more than I took, in a materialistic sense, I got something in return on an emotional level. When I gave to others I went from worthless, to having worth. I went from being an unlikeable person into a person that was temporarily ‘liked’. Now, I do not consider those harmful relationships as relationships. They are Zombieships. Some walk away with surplus while others are left drained. When we serve as an ATM Bank to overcompensate for our insecurities, we do not foster real geniune connections. We set ourselves up to get robbed. Our worth must come from within, vs externally. If no one taught us how to have it, we have the adulthood responsibility of finding it on our own. This usually comes from the most Painful lesson’s life has to offer.

No More White Picket Fence

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 2-28-2022

You feed a bunch of people a fantasy, you create a herd of people chasing a ‘dream’ that leads to disappointment. If you feed everyone the same fantasy, you neglect the concepts of diversity and individuality. Then you push the masses through the same customs and teachings; you will create narrower minds. You will set many up for lifestyles not suited for them. The American dream? The white picket fence? The Nuclear family? The One? The Happily ever after? The dream job? It’s all a facade. There is no ‘ideal’, there is no perfect, there is no ‘one size fits all’. So, why do we pretend that there is? Why are the younger generations still growing up to be told ‘what they should want’, ‘what they should strive for’, and ‘what they ought to do’ with their lives?

There may be things that society needs on a macro level that points toward a certain lifestyle: Working americans, married americans, breeding americans, busy americans, americans with a sense of purpose, with drive, with a ‘no excuses attitude’. But, that’s just the macro level, and it does not mean it serves everyone individually. If you ever found yourself being told that ‘you want something’, that you do not actually want, then you understand exactly what I am talking about.

Filtering Out

I had to filter most people out, my mind was getting crowded and clouded. If you ask for advice, you will likely receive so many conflicting viewpoints you may be left more confused than you were before. If you ‘only follow your gut’, you are left at the mercy of your narrow mindedness. That being said, humans need mentors, but we need the ‘right’ ones.

-You should not go in the military -Go to college instead! -Don’t go to college, you arent’ smart enough -You should be a psychologist, not a social worker -You should be a psychiatrist -You should be a nurse -Don’t own property, it isn’t worth it -Don’t buy a house now, wait a while -Get married -Have kids -Stay single -Diet more -Diet less -workout more, but not too much

Q’s: What advice is getting regurgitated to you on the regular that you can do without? What is useless? What is not serving you a purpose? Are these habitual advice givers even aware of your story? Your wants? Your desires? Do they care to be aware? Are they simply feeding you a template that they believe works because it worked for them? Supposedly.

Recognizing the Facade/ Listening to your intuition

The facade, the ‘screen saver’, the ‘picture perfect’ life. That damn “white picket fence” lifestyle. It’s all an illusion. It’s actually nothing more than a guess. It’s people trying over and over to emmulate what they see in movies, books, magazines, pictures and maybe the occassional role model that seems to have ‘it all figured out’. Is it a good template to even go by? It really depends on who you ask. Also, do we want what we want because we actually want it? Or because someone told us ‘we want it?’ All the married patients I had over the years that admitted in mental health sessions that they regretted their marriage. All of the parents I talked to over the years that regretted their decision to have kids. All of the people I have talked to that regretted their career choice… what in the world was going on?? I had to dig deep to really be able to admit to myself, that at my core, I do not want kids. I am a biological female and have lived as one. So naturally, my entire life, people told me I should have kids. People told me I will want them, I should want them, I’ll change my mind one day, and/ or “I should have them regardless’ when I expressed not wanting them. Lucky for me, I’m in a country that will not physically persecute me for going against this ‘norm’. I also have had the opportunities to make a living for myself: military, college, jobs, money, purchasing a home. But, I do get shamed and misunderstood nontheless. That, I can live with.

Q’s: What ‘norm’ do you not fit in with? What efforts have people put into trying to push you toward a path you did not want to take? How did you stay true to your own intuition despite the social pressures to go against it?

The ‘Strength’ and ‘Want’ based perspective

Two important things: What is this individual good at? And what does this individual want? That’s what we should likely focus on. In social work, this is known as respecting an individuals ‘Right to self determination’, and using a ‘Strength based perspective’. The answers to those questions will likely give us the answer on ‘how this person can possibly contribute’. How said individual could alter their lifestyle to suit their wants/ needs while also helping others. Imagine if schools helped guide us through this? Imagine if most parents did? Imagine living in a world where the moment someone see’s that a child has a talent and a genuine interest for something, we encouraged it vs discourage it. Even if it isn’t the stereotypical profitable subjects, like art for example. But sadly, fear and rigidity get in the way of this, all … the …. time. Imagine if someone tells you “I don’t want to dress like everyone else”, or “I don’t think I want to get married”, or “I don’t think I want kids”, or “I don’t think I aspire to own a home”, or “I don’t think I want a conventional job, I want to build a business”, and instead of trying to argue, we simply said: “Okay”. Maybe they will change their mind, but maybe they wont. The point is, it’s their right to choose.

Q’s: Have you ever caved under societal pressure and regretted your decision to do so after? What was it, and looking back, what would you have done differently?

What’s the Big Deal though?

The issue I have with preaching to the masses to aspire toward the ‘white picket fence’ lifstyle is two fold. It 1- Ignores diversity and the many talents there are to be had in this world. In turn, we may be neglecting some true gold mines. If we do not nurture talent/ drive, it may dwindle out. And 2- It causes a large number of people to feel ‘abnormal’, in that they will not fit into everything that is being preached. This causes shame. It’s okay to live in ‘the norm’, and it’s also equally okay to not fit ‘the norms’. What’s not okay, is pushing people into a lifestyle that they do not want to live and lacking empathy when said person realizes they have changed their mind. Let’s be mindful of everything. Mindful of what we want. Mindful that others may not want the same things. Mindful not to regurgitate poor advice, especially when we have limited knowledge of someone elses’ situation/ needs. Mindful that we are allowed to decide our own paths, change our minds as needed and redirect as needed. The white picket fence is nonsensical, there are many different ways to live life.

The Double Edged Sword

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 2-13-2023

There are issues that come up in a persons life that have no good, easy or perfect answers. In some cases, we get to a fork in the road where we have two or more crappy options, and we have to try to sort out the question of: “which option is the “least” awful one?” I call these “double edged sword situations”. Why? Because you will get cut either way. It will hurt either way. You will deal with consequences that you don’t want, either way. These decisions cause the most “stuck points”. The stuck point will last a good while as someone contemplates what type of suffering they would rather endure. Let’s explore these ‘double edged swords’, and gain some deeper empathy.

Keeping or Resigning a Job that is destroying your Mental health To keep a horrible job in order to keep the predictable income that is coming your way? Or leave the job for the sake of your mental health, but then you have a new problem… where does your next paycheck come from? How will you pay your bills? The more sensible answer might be to find another job before resigning from the current one. Then it’s a question of: Will this job actually be better for me? Or will it be the same BS, just different people? Or, what if the new job is even worse?! That cannot be predicted, it’s a chance you may have to take. I tell my patients that “I am never dissapointed when someone chooses their mental health over their toxic job’. But, I also recognize it is NOT a simple decision. Some people are literally living ‘paycheck to paycheck’, and to resign would mean a new life stressor that can exacerbate their mental health: Fear of the unknown along with fear of where the next paycheck is coming from. Another thing I also say, ‘Only you can really know when you are done with something. When you have reached your limits, you have reached your limits’. If your job makes you miserable, it is highly likely there is a ‘better fit’ for you elsewhere. It requires exploration. People that fear change have a harder time with this. Some people choose to find ways to make themselves ‘more affordable’ by cutting down on uneeded expenditures; in turn, they can then manage to work less hours and remain affordable. Some people choose to live with family or room mates; we saw this a lot during the pandemic. And I encourage this, as long as the family is NOT toxic. If someone’s job is making them miserable, I hope they can seek a way out. It may not be ‘your ideal option’ or lifestyle, but it’s likely better than risking your sanity.

Leaving a relationship vs staying; especially when kids are involved I regularly get clients that are in harmful relationships. And, when there are kids involved, it is not as simple as ‘just leave’. (Even without kids; break ups are not simple!) The double edged sword is in knowing that even if there’s relief with breaking up; the kids will likely grieve. Even when the break up is for the best, the kids will likely miss having daily access to all parents. Stay ‘for the kids’ knowing the relationship is harmful to you; and therefore will bleed onto the family dynamics? Or leave the relationship, and deal with the grief aftermath with the kids; take them through that harmful break up and hope there is a rainbow at the end of the storm. All family break ups look different, of course. Some parents manage to break up and do minimal damage to their kids, and find very healthy ways to coparent. That is the ideal. Unfortuantely, there are many break ups that are messy, and some parents run the risk of triangulating the children; putting them in the middle. Some ‘broken up parents’ cannot seem to find a way to reconcile just enough to ‘focus on the kids’ and keep their hurt/ rage out of the equation. Worst case scenerio is when the relationship was heavily abusive. In cases like this, I encourage my patient to ‘let the lawyers do most of the talking’. If you find you cannot have a conversation with your ex spouse without it turning into huge screaming match; that’s what the legal teams are for. You’re paying a divorce lawyer; let them do the arguing. A mind cannot be at peace when it is hijacked by an ex lover. Even the most crafty parents, may be ‘hiding a lot from the kids’, but remember the kids can also feel and pick up on your energy too. Protect it at all costs.

Continuing the Drug(s) vs going Sober The drug is helping you medicate in some way, it’s helping ease some of your distress. It’s also causing some long term adverse side effects. Decisions decisions…. Society will often always scream ‘sobriety’, but the sufferer know’s it’s not that simple. The sufferer knows what lies on the other side of sobriety: feeling what they were trying to ‘escape from’. This could be depression, trauma memories, anxiety, ADHD, lonliness, grief, chronic pain, chronic stress, toxic environments with minimal opportunities for escape etc. This is why I am a huge fan of ‘harm reduction’ models; for those that do not see sobriety as an option. If someone can stay sober, more power to them. For those that cannot, I want to help them find the balance; reduce the drug use while compensating with other healthier coping outlets. This…. TAKES…. TIME. It rarely happens over night. Old habits die hard, new routines take time to build.

A ‘Great Body’ with deprivation vs ‘The normal routine’ The ‘just eat less and exercise more’ influencers are out there, mad that people don’t take their advice. Not even all doctors, nutritionists and fitness experts undersand that this path toward a ‘healthier lifestyle’ is a complex ‘double edged sword’. Firstly, everyone has a different metabolic rate. Let’s at least acknowledge right now, that some people can eat junk food everyday, and remain ‘thin’. Meanwhile, some people must restrict a lot, and go great lengths to remain ‘thin’. Secondly, let’s reflect on societies average definition of what ‘healthy looks like’. We often base health off of our ‘aesthetics’ and appearance. Most people will praise a ‘smaller framed person’ (unless they are ‘too small’), and most will shame a ‘heavyset’ person. The smaller framed person may be told “keep it up!” (Whether what they are doing to remain ‘thin’ is healthy or not), while the larger person may be encouraged to eat less and exercise more (regardless of how much they are already doing this) This leaves people with a dillema. If someone is working out regularly, and dieting often, but still has some ‘pudge’ on their body, are they willing to ‘go that extra mile’ to get rid of it? Can they do it in a healthy manner? Is it even worth it? What will they be sacrificing? Nutrients? Sleep? Social time? Hobbies? Will it risk injury? Will it lead to burnout? Will it actually make them feel ‘happier’? Outside of the superficial level of more compliments and likes on social media? Will they feel deprived and ravenous, and in turn, more depressed despite having ‘the ideal body type’? Is it even attainable with their current lifestyle? (Demanding jobs, kids etc. can be a time barrier and cause people to shift their priorities). Every individual has to decide what’s healthiest for them. What lifestyle helps them feel ‘the most balanced’.


Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 2-6-2023

“Stop holding on to what is not for you. Get out of the quicksand. Swim toward the surface. Shake off the poison. Push away the evil. Make a barrier between you and all else; create secret passwords for access. Move forward. Be brave. Accept the new.” -EaE

What do we do when we aren’t living in the moment? Either ruminating on the past with feelings of depression, regret or resentment? Or perhaps obsessing over the future with anxiety and fear? Either way, we are not living when we are in those vicious cycles. We’re either trapped in the past or consumed with a future that hasn’t happened yet. When we have the belief that “things will be better when we finally get to x,y,z”, we are not in the moment. We are anxious about rushing to the future. When we are consumed with the past; either regretting it or missing it, we cannot feel gratitude toward what is right in front of us. We may not be able to even entertain the present. Being in the moment requires us to shed a lot of that baggage, much like how a snake can shed it’s skin and move on.


Shedding requires acceptance. Acceptance of the past being behind us. Acceptance that we have lost intimate partners, lost some family, lost some friends, lost out on a promotion or other career opportunity. Acceptance that we are getting older, we cannot pause time. Acceptance that we did, in fact, make decisions and mistakes that we cannot erase. Acceptance that some people really ‘screwed’ us over, and the opportunity and timeframe to ‘get revenge’ is far past us. Acceptance of the future means accepting that we cannot see it, or always control it. We can make all the plans in the world and execute everything perfectly; some things still won’t work out the way we intended. Acceptance that we are not in tomorrow, or next week, next month, or next year; we are in the here and now. We may not love our present, but it is where we are. Acceptance of others has to do with our ability to remember that everyone has autonomy. Everyone outside of you has their own right to self determination, their own freedom of mind and self expression. Shedding requires us to let go of past, future, and every person that exists outside of our body.

Stuck Points:

Getting stuck, on an outer surface level, looks like a person that is not ‘progressing forward’. In career, in mindset, in relationship styles or taste, in setting and accomplishing any goals. They will look the same, believe all the same things, and act the same way for years and years on end. That’s, again, the surface level. The inner level has to do with their mindset; their belief systems, their psychological survival programming, and their thoughts. Notice, that I did not say emotions. As there is no such thing as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ emotions, but there are such things as ‘unhelpful thoughts’ that could contribute to maladaptive behavioral patterns. You cannot shed anything, or make any types of change, if your thoughts and behaviors are in the same ‘stuck points’; keeping you stagnant. Instead of a snake that sheds and finds a path, you will be more like a rock; heavy and never moving.

Identify It:

What is keeping you stuck? Do you believe you don’t deserve better? Do you feel guilty? Are you punishing yourself? AKA Self sabotage. Did you develop a belief that nothing will change no matter how hard you try? So then, you stopped trying? Do you believe now that you are unlovable? Unlikeable? Are you terrified of promoting? Because deep down, you know it requires more responsibility? Are you terrified of change? Because at least right now you at least know what to expect, even if it sucks? Are you fixated on the past because you cannot resolve it? Why? Do you miss it? Do you regret it? Are you angry from it and you know something has to change so you do not repeat it again? Are you future focused because the present moment is intolerable? Why? Can you sit still with your emotions and thoughts or are you afraid of them? Do you trust yourself? Can you confide in others? If your life is tremendously dissatisfying, can you scorch it to the ground and start over? Or does that terrify you to your core?

Growth: Sit well, Shed well, Move well:

Growth is best not described as something that is merely positive. Growth is challenging, uncomfortable, and even scary. Growth requires us to go into the unfamiliar. It requires us to challenge our own mindset. It requires that we do things that risk us making mistakes. And, we will make mistakes. It requires that we make the decision about whether or not we will learn from something or shy away. Sit in what is uncomfortable before compulsively running away. Ask yourself the hard questions before you wash away those distressing emotions with either work, lust, drugs, distraction etc. There are lesson’s you could be missing otherwise. People are terrified of this pause. This pause, often never happens. Instead people go from one marriage to another. Or one job to another. One bad friendship to another. One bad home to another. Humans hate pausing, they prefer distractions. Only after a meaningful pause/ reflection, can we healthily shed and move forward. Shedding requires us to process and then let go of many things. Past, memories, old identity, old sense or purpose, old survival programs that are not suited for us anymore. Shedding also requires the acceptance of what is out of our control. Shed the rumination, shed the future obsessions. The best thing about healthily moving forward is we are moving forward with a better idea of who we are, and what we want. Move to where we want to go next. More importantly, move at your own pace, and move toward what YOU want. Stillness has it’s purpose too (For processing), but if you stay still and stuck forever, then you’re a rock again.

My Challenges:

The past was the hardest thing for me to overcome. My signature issue: rumination. I did not worry too much about the future, I over compensated by working extremely hard, so my future was often planned 2-10 years in advance. But the past? There was much that I could not let go of. It took me ‘too long’ to complete my grieving. Perhaps a part of the problem was my inability to actually grieve and process. I ran away, and only let myself have rage and resentment. How could I truly shed anything if I could not even admit to myself how much I was actually hurting? Instead I ran away from one bad scenerio only to fall right back into another similiar one. Reminding me of what one of my favorite clients would tell me: “It’s like a bad poem that never stops repeating itself.” Thus, if we do not shed, we will only live in repetitive cycles.