Love letters to yourself is self-care

I recently saw an article on XONecole about how it is refreshing and therapeutic to write a love letter to yourself. It’ll hold you accountable to what love means to you, help you make decision centered around self-love, and document those feelings of love that you have for yourself.

I wanted to share my letter with you in hopes that it’ll inspire you to write one to yourself.

To: My one and only special love

From: Your forever

Song: “Differences” – Ginuwine

Baby girl,

I can’t imagine doing life without you. I don’t know what I did to deserve you but I pray that it never changes. In the past, I didn’t fight for you, live on you, or care much for you but that’s gonna change. Just watching you this year has been amazing. I appreciate you allowing me to take this wild ride with you.

No one compares to you. When you put your mind to something, there is no stopping you. Have you seen how resilient you are? I’m not sure if you ever received so many no’s as this year but you know what you did with them? You balled out still. Stayed 10 toes down and kept it moving. Flawlessly. Gracefully.

I admire your heart baby girl because it is absolutely stunning. The passion that you have to do what is right, true, fair is extraordinary! Everyday you find room in your heat for one more thing that will make a difference in the lives of others.

Yes, I know you’re thinking of all the work that you still have to do. The coping with emotions, glowing, and growing but it’s coming. Everything will work itself out in due season.

Relax and get some rest tonight. You deserve it baby girl.

Love you always,

Jelissa

Leave a comment on this post if you accept that challenge of sitting down and writing one to yourself!

My inner voice: Worst critic or best friend?

I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok.

Feeling rejected.

Being ignored or not prioritized properly.

Feeling unappreciated.

My 3 biggest triggers. Triggers that I don’t yet have a handle on and frankly idek where to start. Well yes I do. It starts with a pause. It starts with a hold. It starts with taking ownership and acknowledgment. No, it actually starts back further. It starts with the inner voice. That harsh critic who lives inside of you. Telling you that you are your mistakes and everything is your fault.

The voice speaks before you even have a chance to process the situation or take a step back to breathe and gather yourself.

Today my voice told me that I was stupid and I always mess stuff up. It told me that I wasn’t worthy of love or anything going right in my personal life.

It didn’t say, “Jelissa, that was an honest mistake.” It told me that I had ruined two new business relationships before I even got started. It said that they would bad mouth me and no one would use the drop in center.

It said that I should have it all together and as much as I hate for my time to be wasted, I should do everything in my power to not waste someone else’s even if that meant doing the impossible.

That voice said that it’s my fault that I don’t have help. It’s my fault that I have to do everything for mason bc I should’ve never got pregnant and made that mistake. It told me that I was a bad mom for making mason have to come and sit at the center for hours and watch me clean.

That voice told me that my past would always define me and that I wasn’t worthy of another chance at love. It told me that I wasn’t good enough for that person and that’s why he wanted to leave. That voice also rewrote his messages too. It never even mentioned leaving.

Today that inner critic was way too loud and debilitating. It screamed all day that I was failing and I listened. I believed that voice too.

Let me stop right there though. What the voice is saying even louder is that there’s still work to be done. I have to continue on this journey of healing and self-love. I still have to become my biggest cheerleader and encourager.

If the voice is screaming then it means that I’m stretched thin and haven’t given myself grace. It says that I haven’t paused to process what’s going on.

I have to heal. I have to forgive (myself first). I have to learn how to balance and make time for myself or else when the days come where everything that could happen, happens, I will buckle once again.

I’m not weak. You aren’t either and if you also deal with a mean, harsh inner voice, we have work to do.

Start with figuring out who’s voice is speaking to you. Get a good night’s rest. Eat a salad and drink some water. Find a therapist. Journal. Google some positive affirmations and repeat them to yourself. Tell yourself that you love you because at the end of the day, YOU ARE ALL THAT YOU GOT AND YOU HAVE TO TREAT YOURSELF LIKE THE KING OR QUEEN THAT YOU ARE.

Who were you?

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Ever wonder who you were before the world told you who you should be?

Perhaps I was the loud, outgoing, kid like my son before I realized that it was best to be quiet and stay out of the way of my parents and their loud, physical fights.

Did I really love to read or was it a way to escape the woes of my daily life?

Maybe I didn’t look at my body with shame or give it a second, third, AND fourth thought until someone decided to tell me that I was too heavy or that I shouldn’t eat that if I didn’t want to be fat.

My grades probably would’ve been average if I didn’t see that high marks and over achieving kept the belt around his waist and his voice not too loud and scary.

I would have an easier time standing up for myself if the times when I did in the past, it wasn’t viewed as insignificant. Young people and their feelings matter too. Always remember that.

Somewhere along the years, the need for perfection was ingrained in my psyche. I still cannot peel its sticky fingers off of me and the repercussions of it are soul-crushing some days. I’m left feeling unworthy simply because I think what I’m doing could be better.

Always feeling the need to level up professionally just so that I can receive praise and recognition as that’s the only way I remember receiving “love”.

Maybe in another life, I didn’t feel the need to perform in order to earn my worth and to receive love. Maybe in another life, I was simply enough. As I am. Nothing more. Nothing less.

People-pleasers can be drawn to toxic relationships. It’s important to know why.

Let's Queer Things Up!

I’ve learned in life that when you observe a pattern about yourself, it might be worth examining (okay, this is an understatement — I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll come out wiser).

One of my big “aha” moments this year was around a relationship pattern that I hadn’t noticed before. I realized that I’m a people-pleaser.

Being liked by others, especially in my personal life, came at the expense of voicing my true feelings and needs. It was more important to be liked than it was to have relationships that felt honest and nourishing.

And it’s a lonely place to be — it can feel like no one knows your true feelings or self, and that you are secondary in relationships that should feel equal. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to a hell of a lot of resentment.

And thus… a pattern emerged.

My favorite kind of person to…

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A letter to my 17-year-old self.

Hey girl, hey. The first thing that I want to say is that you are beautiful. You matter. Your feelings matter. Loosen up. Feel free to be yourself.

Forgive me for looking in the mirror and wishing that I could have a nose job as soon as I was an adult. Forgive me for not seeing the beauty in your eyes and your body. You will struggle with your weight everyday but guess what? The number on the scale doesn’t define you.

You are not a failure because you have not been very successful long enough in your weight loss journey. Everything will not be easy and this is a battle that you have to wake up everyday and decide to win. You have to fight. You can’t give up. Trust me, you are going to long to be more active in your son’s life so just start now.

Baby girl, you never deserved to be ashamed of what you decided to eat. You should have been taught how to have a healthy lifestyle and make exercise fun so that later on you won’t see it as something you despise. I regret deeply that you didn’t get the support you needed in this area because it becomes the biggest thorn in your side as you get older.

Your emotions will be all over the place but that is ok as well. You’ll get help and it will get better. Right now, just focus on accepting that you feel everything so so deeply. What you feel is valid and nope. You aren’t too sensitive. Your emotional intelligence will be one of your greatest strengths. The empathy and passion that you have inside you is just waiting to burst out.

Your heart is pure gold. Whoever gets it will be blessed bc they won’t know what it feels like to not have love.

Forgive me for trying to fix things that were none of your business being the age that you are. You had to grow up faster because your conscious allowed you to feel your mom’s pain and want to take it away from her. This led you to trying to perform the best so that your parents would be distracted. You hoped to fix everything so that your environment wouldn’t be so toxic. So that so much fighting and fussing wouldn’t go on but baby girl, it was nothing that you could do to fix that.

Forgive me for allowing you to think that you weren’t good enough or smart enough or pretty enough. You were always all of those things. I led you to mold yourself into whoever you needed to be. I helped you create many masks that hid the real you.

If I could tell you anything that you would definitely listen to is to be yourself and don’t worry. Everything works out as it should. You will succeed. Oh my gosh, you should see you now. Living in your dream home and working your dream job. Girl, you will do it!

Be more grateful Jelissa. Appreciate every little thing. Nothing is too small to be grateful for and proud of. Stop hiding and let your light shine. There are people who are waiting on you to be your authentic self so that they in turn can live in their truth too.

Nothing is odd about you. And if it is, oh well. Trust, everyone has their quirks and that’s what’s makes you unique. You don’t have to be mean for people to take you serious. You aren’t mean so don’t use it to keep yourself from getting hurt. You’re gonna get hurt anyway. Learn now to feel the hurt, figure out what the hurt taught you, and keep it moving.

I really wish you could have had a better relationship with your parents. They did the best they could with what they knew/had at the time. I’m sorry that your dad didn’t do a great job at showing you how a man should treat you. I’m sorry that your mom taught you to settle and not prioritize yourself by staying with your dad when that marriage should have been over.

Til this day you don’t have a great relationship with them especially your dad. He will teach you what being guilt-tripped will feel like so no one else can make you feel guilty for the decisions that YOU make.

Let NO be a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. No one at all!

When 2012 comes, reach out for help then instead of waiting 4 more years. It is then that you’ll realize that you were depressed. Oh yeah, it was no need for you to try to cut away the pain that you felt a few years ago. Just hold on until you’re in college and it won’t hurt so bad anymore.

You deserve to live and not die! There will be nothing in your life that bad which would make you want to commit suicide.

Forgive me for making you think that in order for you to feel validated, you had to have the approval of others. They don’t really matter like that. Just examine how you see yourself and go from there.

Stop being so hard and self-critical. It will literally make you sick! Nothing good comes from negative self-talk and thoughts. You have to trap those thoughts as soon as you think them and replace them with a positive thought then repeat hag to yourself. You’re gonna want to do this everyday so that it becomes automatic. This is very very important to ensure your growth.

Trouble doesn’t last always baby girl. I can promise you that. Focus on you and finding out what makes you happy. What brings you joy Jelissa? What are your hobbies? What are your goals? These are all very good things to focus on and figure out. The earlier, the better.

I’m sorry that I didn’t write you sooner. I had to get my thoughts together. Anyway, I love you.

Be easy,

Jelissa

Bruh, in 2019, just trust God (…or whatever you believe in)

As 2018 comes to a close 😅 I saw it fitting to look back on the year that I had. From January to today, there was many stressful times and it was because I decided to overthink and create hypothetical scenarios.

Unwavering faith is what I am choosing to obtain in 2019 and why? Because I’ve never been let down even once by God. All of my prayers have been answered even if it wasn’t the answer that I wanted.

So relax. Take time to just rest and trust the process. Easier said then done but at the same time, give yourself some grace.

Life is hard. Way too hard but we still have to live it. Keep fighting. Keep moving forward. Your time is coming.

What a day in a dark place looks like for me.

I didn’t go to sleep until 2am this morning and slept until 7. We have to leave by 7:30 for me to be to work on time.

I’m late. I’m one whole hour late because I stopped in Walmart and didn’t want to go to work.

I got to work. I tried to focus on work but I really couldn’t concentrate so around and around I went on the same problem that usually would take minutes for me to solve.

We go home after a doctors visit so that I can continue working. I fall asleep at my computer and I awake only to not be able to concentrate.

I finally turn the laptop off at 5pm only to lay on the couch and try my best to disappear. I let Mason watch tv, clutter the living room, and make as much noise as he wants as long as he doesn’t bother me.

I scroll aimlessly on my phone silently wishing that I was anywhere but here. Wishing that I had help. Wishing that I didn’t have to get off the couch to feed Mason. Wishing that he could read his books to his self before bedtime. Wishing that I hadn’t yelled at him out of irritability.

He’s just a kid. Why do I have to yell? I haven’t yelled in a long time. I think I’m going back to that place again. Why can’t I just go home? I hate my job. I hate responsibilities for holding me hostage here. I want to go home. I want my mom. I need help. Why do I have to bear this burden? Why can’t I just be free and happy? I’m going to ruin him. I’m not a good mother because I yell. I shouldn’t let him watch so much tv.

These are just the thoughts that went through my head in a few minutes. Round and around I go just allowing the negativity to engulf me.

This is what a day of depression looks like. This is what a weekend of bipolar looks like. Maybe it’s just what borderline personality disorder looks like. At this point, idek. I’ll be glad when we figure it out. So I can get the help I need and/or medicine that works.

I just haven’t had a day like this in awhile and y’all I’m tired.

#transparencysunday I am 1 in 5

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1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in any year and 1 in 7 mothers experience a mood disorder after having a baby. Disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. There’s so much stigma around mental health and I’m here to do my part to break the stigma.

So many times, I get the “You don’t look depressed”, “You don’t have bipolar” (the jury’s still out on this one), “It’s just a moment. It’ll pass”, “I got myself out of depression without medicine.” (Depression is diagnosed by observing persistent depressed moods over a period of time. Not two weeks, not one month. At least a year.) I just listened to people because I used to think the same thing until I realized that something wasn’t quite right with me. This came to realization in my last relationship. I was always moody, lashing out, or didn’t want to do anything. Life was very unpleasant.

It actually started before then. The whole month of December in 2012, the tears wouldn’t stop. Everyday, I was crying and I can’t even tell you why. 6 months after having Mason (2015), I went to an appointment and to check for post-partum depression, the doctor asked a series of questions. I said no to every question that I should’ve answered yes. Shame and guilt had silenced me into not seeking help.

The more we keep things to ourselves, the less likely that we’ll reach out for help. Your secrets can literally keep you sick. The same year, I went and saw a weight-loss therapist because I knew how my emotions connected with food was not correct either. He wasn’t any help. He couldn’t see that it was deeper than emotional eating. It was depression or more like bipolar 2 (manic depression) in which the jury is still out on the correct diagnosis.

When I finally sought out my last therapist, I knew that I was where I was supposed to be. After 4 months, my therapist asked me to consider getting medication to lift my mood. We couldn’t make progress in my work if I never felt like doing anything. Session after session, I constantly cried. Now I can go and it’s often that I don’t shed a tear. Does that mean I’m better? No, it means that progress has been made.

In March of 2016, I got prescribed my first anti-depressant. I was still in silence about what was going on with me to my loved ones because I felt like it was my fault. I felt like if I prayed more and read my bible more than I wouldn’t be dealing with this. People were voicing their opinion on social media that medication was the devil and that it hurt more so than it helped. I haphazardly took the pills. After seeing no effect, I asked to be switched to something else. February 2018, I reached out to a psychiatrist and started taking my meds seriously because I actually couldn’t say they didn’t work if I didn’t try. Lo and behold, I started having less and less crying spells. I was less irritable. It seemed as if I was a little less compulsive (symptom of bipolar). I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This is part of my truth and I am sharing it because we can’t afford to sit in silence one second longer. Someone out there is going through and feeling all alone. Mental health is already hard enough to seek help for and then add in guilt, shame, and embarrassment and it’s nearly impossible to do so.

“Vulnerability is what connects us as humans and sometimes it means talking about hard things and mental health is hard to talk about, but it is also so freeing when you do.” – Desiree Fortin

My inbox is always open for whatever you need. A listening ear or resources, I got all of that. #youarenotalone #endmentalhealthstigma #breakthestigma #mentalhealthmatters #blackmentalhealthmatters

#transparencysunday How this life long battle with weight has colored my life.

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I didn’t blog last week because I knew this was coming. The time has come where I really become vulnerable. With you and myself. I am putting everything on the table this year so that I can begin to make progress and finally be able to say that #imlivingmybestlife.

Trying to lose weight started when I was 9 or 10. My dad made me go walk around the block by myself for exercise because I was gaining too much weight. It was scary being out there alone and I also was sad because I fwlt like I was a disappointment. It didn’t help that my brother frequently called me a fat pig (I still cry about that ’til this day). Looking back, it wasn’t my fault that I was rather “healthy”. At that time my parents had the most control over what I ate but I wasn’t mature enough to understand tha it wasn’t my fault but theirs. At such a tender age, I begin to look at myself as bad. As not “good enough” because I was seemingly bigger than my classmates.

Recently, in one of my weekly sessions, I was sitting on that beige couch in my therapist’s office writing down the negative thoughts that plays on that tape over and over in my head.I was filling out a worksheet called “replacing negative thoughts” with 3 categories. Notice negative thoughts, reject (what thought is more realistic), and replace (find a positive truth with scripture to apply). We decided to go on a 21 day detox from ONE negative thought. Your brain rewires itself according to your thoughts so I was eager to begin. I wrote a few down:

  1. It’s my fault that I can’t lose weight.
  2. I don’t deserve to be with someone who treats me correctly (whatever that means).
  3. I can’t succeed with losing weight.
  4. I always mess up.
  5. I’m so stupid.

When I read these out loud to her, I could not believe what I’ve been thinking. I REALLY AM MY OWN WORST ENEMY. The thoughts that took me out i.e. made me break down were the ones about weight. This was a hard session where I probably used up the whole box of tissue. I wanted to run out of that room instead of sitting there and being present in my truth at that moment because my truth was scary. My truth was depressing. It felt as if my truth was sitting on that couch beside me finally up out of my conscious and alive.

My weight has been a roller coaster. I’ve lost 30+ lbs 3 times throughout my life (high school, college, and last year) yet here I am once again back at the starting weight of my last attempt to lose. I told myself that I am a complete failure. That if I can’t be consistent with conquering this one area of my life then I can forget about being consistent in other areas. My “failure” at weight loss had colored my life.

It has kept me from making the leap into pursuing my wildest dreams. It has kept me bound from trying new things. All my life I have saw myself as “bad” and undeserving because I have never lost weight and kept it off. I’ve been holding back because I believed that I needed to take care of myself first before doing anything. Not thinking about the fact that I’m healthy as a tick. NO HEALTH PROBLEMS granted being close to 300lbs!

Not being able to lose weight for good and always being a bit bigger than my classmates led me to the worst issues I believe there is to have. I DON’T LOVE MYSELF. I AM SELF-CONSCIOUS. I HAVE LOW SELF-ESTEEM. So there you go. That’s the real truth that I’ve hid so well. It has led me to always look for validation from other people because I didn’t see myself as they did. I hear all the time how I have a great personality and can light up a room. My smile is beautiful and I am too. I’m a great mom and I’m doing this thing very well. That I’m so mature and have some serious visions for my life. I think to myself yeah, so you say. I know that this stuff is true but it just doesn’t seep into my soul so I go back home and ruminate on my flaws, mistakes, and regrets.

Nothing that I do is good enough because I always thought that I wasn’t good enough (this statement is a whole ‘nother post in itself). I always thought that if only I can try harder, if only I can be consistent. If only I wasn’t this size then I would love myself. Ha. Those two things have nothing to do with each other. Small or big, it wouldn’t matter because either way, I still thought the same thing.

But that stops here. It’s time to do something different so that I will produce different results. I am now in the process of rewiring my brain and learning how to embrace Jelissa and her flaws and all. I stand in the mirror and tell myself that I am beautiful. That I am worthy. I try to compliment myself throughout the day while also giving myself grace when I make mistakes. I tried telling myself that I loved me but that did’t last long because I don’t believe it. I have hope that one day soon I will.

I can’t let myself down. Not only do I have to love myself for me, I have to do it for Mason too. I lift him up and compliment him but yet it’s rare that I do it myself. J. Cole said it best. “Love yourself girl or nobody will.”

 

Transparency Sunday: #livinmybestlife means taking off this cape!

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The day that I decided to go get help (go to therapy) was when I realized that I was an emotional eater. I walked into the office of this white guy that was experienced with treating patients who struggled with weight loss. I only went 4 times as we weren’t getting anywhere. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to him and I knew it was because I thought he couldn’t relate to my life. The next time that I went was in the middle of my last relationship. I sought out a black lady who specialized in Christian counseling. I went in there to figure out why I was acting the way I did in the relationship. I mean, those were reasons why  I went but it wasn’t the reasons that I needed to be there. I was suffering from the “Strong black woman/Superwoman” syndrome. I had no clue. If you didn’t know, this syndrome  can be deadly.

On the outside, my life looked relatively perfect. On the inside, I was slowly cracking under the pressure. I was breaking and it was not going to get better if I kept going at the rate that I was going. I was to the point where I was just stuck. Still to this day, I am fighting the battle to take this super woman cape off and keep it off for good.

The “strong black woman” persona was created as a way to overcome all of the stereotypes about us as black women and because throughout history that is who we had to be. Everyone needed us and depended on us. This came with consequences though.

Underneath my cape, I was broken, bruised, and barely able to breathe. I wasn’t moving back home because I saw that as a sign of failure. I wasn’t going to seem as if I needed help with raising Mason and I was definitely not asking anyone for money. I made my bed and I was going to lie in it.  I didn’t see that I was not alone because my pride told me that I didn’t need help and I didn’t need anyone. Here I was, in this city alone, hoping for a job in a field that is dominated by white males (where I am considered a unicorn – as told my by first boss -___-) and parenting solo. I was so determined to keep it together, to make it look easy, to show everyone that I was capable of playing the hand that I’d been dealt in life.  My life on social media was true but it was just a highlight reel. You didn’t see the ugly parts.

What makes up the strong black woman syndrome?

  1. You feel as if there is an obligation to look strong, to come off as having it all together.
  2. You suppress your emotions. Even if the world is falling apart around you, no one will see you fold.
  3. You feel as if you can’t get help and being vulnerable is something that you’re not.
  4. You have a motivation to succeed against all odds. You let nothing stand in your way and you’re gonna move forward at all costs. You don’t mind paying the price.
  5. You feel as if it’s your responsibility to put yourself last because there are people who need you.
  6. You take on everyone’s problems and their stress becomes yours too.

I had all of the symptoms. Somewhere along the way the Holy Spirit told me, “Baby girl, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You gotta get some help.”  It just wasn’t anymore left to give and as a result, I was not taking care of myself,  not eating right, not sleeping enough. I JUST DIDN’T HAVE THE TIME because I was too busy being everything to everyone and nothing to myself. Self-care was non-existent. I just keep going and going and going.

Sounds familiar?

Enough is enough! Sis, it’s time that we take our capes off. We weren’t built to move in this world all by ourselves. Here’s some tips to help you remove it for good.

  1. Learn to notice the early signs of stress. For me, it’s tension in my neck or I become very snappy. I stop and think about what’s going on to cause my reactions.
  2. Begin to manage your stress. Delegate tasks to someone else, don’t pretend to be just fine when someone asks how you are (I AM TALKING TO MYSELF!). Accept help when someone offers it. It really takes the weight off of your shoulders and no you will not be a burden.
  3. You gotta find the time to exercise, eat more veggies and fruits, and get more hours of sleep!
  4. Set boundaries. NO is a complete sentence. Tell your family no, your boss no, and tell yourself no. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAVE THE WORLD.
  5. Create a plan for when it’s too much. For me, that’s taking more time for myself, sending Mason to his dad’s, and heck, skipping out on some obligations during the week. The world will keep going without you.

It won’t be easy. You will first have to get used to being vulnerable but I know that we got this. We made it this far, we still have our right mind, a great future ahead of us. Inbox me if you want to talk. Otherwise feel free to leave a comment saying me too if you relate. Talk soon 🙂