The last few weeks have been some of the best times of my life. I became closer to an already close friend and have formed a new partnership. My existing partnership continues to get more amazing every day. My heart is so full. 🥰
I had some amazing mental health training. I met some great people on the streets. I walked a 17 mile day and reconnected with another close friend. Broke some personal fitness records. Been spending lots of really good quality time with my partners and friends. Eating better. Sleeping really well. Taking my meds. Feeling hopeful and excited about the future. Exploring new photography stuff. Launched a couple websites. IFS. Job is good. Relationships are solid.
The last few weeks have also been a time of real struggle. I quit improv class. Last week on Monday and Tuesday nailed me to the ground. A shame tornado ripped through my soul. I thought it couldn’t feel worse. Then the last shame hurricane pummeled through Wednesday Night and Thursday morning. I talked to a crisis therapist. The eye passed over that afternoon and I thought it was over. The second and strongest wave passed Friday morning, and it devastated everything. My head was left spinning. I literally didn’t see it coming. I thought my world was gone. That was until a friend showed up unexpectedly, and intentionally that afternoon.
On my 199th day without smoking, I had a lit cigarette in my hand, and had already burned a half pack. He had coffee. He was there to check on me. Infact my closest people had been in talks most of the day to try to discern if and what kind of storm had hit me and what to do. I needed help and couldn’t say the words. They knew something was amiss. I was completely out of character.
(I want to share that despite suffering a major mental health challenge, I never became a danger to myself or others. I was never suicidal. I had spiraled with shame into a very hard place. It felt like a crisis that nobody would understand.)
Throughout these dark cold moody fall storms, my tribe has surrounded me with love and compassion. They have lifted me up. They understand pain and suffering. They get me. They remind me that I am still the same person I was before the storm. They emphasize that my core self remains unchanged. And they have let me know through words and actions that storms come and go. And we don’t have to weather them alone. We can weather it together. Joining hands with love and compassion we can survive anything life throws at us.
Struggling? I see you. I hear you. I love you. Let’s chat about it. Let’s #WeatherItTogether ❤️
Then we get to unravel it all 20-30 years later as adults. For me, after raising children, repeating my parents parenting mistakes, and becoming estranged from my daughters for over a year and a half now.
**Apologies in advance,but I am going to be more active on social media about this, than I was about Crossfit for a few years.**
Listened to a guy recall his mother telling him he was such a good boy for not crying and screaming (having perfectly normal toddler emotions and tantrums). He remembers that from age three. He had “perfect trauma free” upbringing by two well educated parents (professors). He called it the “Leave it to Beaver” family. “Nothing wrong at home.”
I thought as I heard him tell the story that I was going to hear how positive this was for him. It seemed like a stark contrast to how I was raised. I would be so lucky to have his positive parents.
After all, I grew up hearing, “Shut up or I will give you something to cry about.” And, a real bingo, “Big boys don’t cry.” Not just from my parents, but from extended family and neighbors.
Real bingo? Yeah. This guy and I were both delivered a traumatic message. The SAME EXACT ONE.
“Don’t share your feelings. And definitely don’t show negative emotions. Because it’s bad.”
And because it was declared bad by people who are our trusted protectors, it was internalized as shame whenever I had a normal toddler tantrum. Shame driven tantrums were a part of my teenage development and on through a majority of my adulthood. And they were usually shame triggered. And generated more shame themselves. And lots of family and friend damage. Which generates more shame. A big fucking shame ferris wheel on fire.
Until I got raw, and vulnerable, and open, about it. Brene Brown says that “Vulnerability is the antidote to shame.” I can’t find anything more true for me. And you can’t get real vulnerable until you accept and love yourself as-is–all of your parts are inherently GOOD, even the ones that are failing you at the moment. And then start doing the actual work to heal and reprogram this old thinking.
Unconditional self love is so important. More important than anything. It isn’t easy, especially with shameful programming learned in childhood. But it’s 100% possible.
Is the shame monster on your back? Shoot me a message. Let’s talk. There is hope.
I often say “do something every day that scares you” and I mean it. Why? Because it teaches us the power of vulnerability. It takes courage to do things that scare us, to leave our comfort zone and be vulnerable. And when we are vulnerable, we learn new things and we make big changes.
Brene Brown has may quotes on vulnerability and here are some of my favorites:
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.”
“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.”
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
“If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
“When you shut down vulnerability you shut down opportunity.”
“There is no intimacy without vulnerability. Yet another powerful example of vulnerability as courage.”
“Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome.”
I hope that you will see that vulnerability is the antidote to shame, a building block to big changes, and a key component of intimacy in our relationships. In my relationships, I seek out those who I can be vulnerable with and give them the same safe emotional space they give me. It deepens the relationship so immensely that it is hard to explain in words. When you can open up your heart, get scared, and talk about the most difficult things with another human being–in complete safety–it changes you as a person and it forever changes the intimacy of the relationship.
I hope that you find ways to be vulnerable in your life, your relationship, your job, with your family and friends, and in everything you do. It takes so much courage and strength to be vulnerable, and as you practice it more, you will experience one of two things. You will succeed in your endeavor, or you will fail. People will hold you with safety, compassion, and care–or they will hurt you in your exposed state. Hopefully not the latter, but it is important to help you weed out the people who are good for you and the people who are toxic and not safe for you. As you filter out the dangerous people, vulnerability will become easier and you will become stronger in your quest to grow, change, and live the best life.
“I want to heal my inner child and I can start taking small steps every day. I know of people who have done the work to heal trauma, so it can be possible for me too. I can learn and heal as I figure things out in this new journey. I release my need for perfection and replace it with love and compassion for myself.” – Tukayote, December 2022.
Five months later, I am rewording it to “I am firmly on the path of healing my inner child and I continue taking small steps every day to become more secure in myself, and my attachment to others. I know many people doing this work to heal their trauma, and it inspires me to continue doing the same thing for myself. I am learning so much, and healing so many things in this journey. I continue to release my need for perfection in myself and with others, and replace it with unconditional love for myself and those around me. I release my expectations of others and realize that there is nothing outside of myself that I can truly control.“
It is fun to go back and look at where I was then and where I am today. I drafted an e-mail to a former partner this afternoon, one who I have had problems with for over a year, and who I had to sever the relationship with a few months ago. Then I deleted it. Without sending it. Something I couldn’t even think of being able to do five months ago, and something I couldn’t do three days ago when I hit send on the message I impulsively typed out in response to this person trying to interfere with my life again. I was giving them power and control over my emotions by engaging with them, yet again. And today, just three days later, after deep reflection and a 12 mile walk last night, I processed (yet more) emotions and came to new conclusions. I don’t owe them shit. And there is nothing I can say that will get through to them and make them understand the hurt, pain, and damage I feel from them. I can’t control their feelings or emotions. I can’t make them understand things the way that I do.
There truly is nothing outside of myself that I can control. I can’t control this person who continues down a destructive path and tries to pull me in. I can’t control their desire to control me. I can only control my choices, especially how I respond to what they are doing. And no response, is a SOLID response.
Sometime, also about 5 months ago, I sat down and listed all of the things I can control. Humans by nature like to feel like they are in control of something, and it was important for me to not feel powerless or helpless. So here is my list. I keep it on my phone, read it frequently, and when the inspiration hits, I add more to it. It keeps growing, but at the root of it all is one word: myself. I can only control myself. I can’t control other people (and what they do), the weather, random injuries, flat tires, or any of the millions of things life dishes out to us with little or no advanced warning. Just me. Only me.
Things I can control and have power over:
My reactions to anything I face
My emotions and how I respond to triggers
My commitments to myself and others
My time and how I spend it
My body and what I do with it
My mental/physical/emotional/sexual health
My schedule and how I fill it
My substance, nicotine, and alcohol use
My choice of friends and relationships
My love and who/how I share it with others
My gifts and acts of service
Things I can’t control and have no power over:
Literally everything else
So, take a few minutes to write down what you have control over and the things you don’t (and probably wish) you had control over. Then examine the things you don’t have control over, especially the ones that are causing you turmoil, emotions, and wasted energy. Stop trying to control them and give the control and power back to what you can control, yourself. Release expectations of others and yourself; they only serve to disappoint you in the long run. Turn to love and compassion for yourself and the healing journey you are on. And share that love and compassion with everyone and everything in your world (even your enemies).
Have a lovely day my friends and followers. I love all of you and hope this helps you take control of yourself and release your need to control anything that you simply cannot (which is almost everything, except you).
I often tell people when they ask me what I am grateful for, that I am exceptionally grateful that I was able to open my eyes this morning and have a brand new day full of opportunities and potentials. A day that has not been “ruined” or “messed up”. A fresh blank canvas of time that I can choose to explore with optimism and positivity–or I can waste. But at the end of the day, I can’t go back and change it. It is history at that point.
So keeping this post simple. Today is a great day to go after your dreams, do something that scares or challenges you, learn something new, make a fresh connection with someone, to love ourselves, to tell others what we love about them, and to find gratitude in having a heart that is still beating. I love you and hope you are having an exceptionally wonderful day.
Yesterday, I was suddenly consumed with wanting to die. I got out my toolset of things to do to cope with the suicidal ideation (it isn’t a new thing, but it is not common anymore these days) and started using them. I tried writing a blog about self-love. I tried drawing. I cleaned my desk. I listened to music. I went for a walk. I tried watching TV. I tried CBD/CBG. I googled “suddenly suicidal” and stared at the first page full of crisis phone numbers to call. I thought about reaching out to a friend or loved one, but I was telling myself, “you aren’t going to do it even though you are feeling the thoughts. The thoughts will pass and nobody will be the wiser and you can talk to your doctor about it tomorrow.”
So then I decided to go for a drive and listen to music. And I needed to grab some groceries. Both are usually good distractions when the mind isn’t well. I got to the grocery store, and felt trapped in my car. Tears running down my face. What the hell was wrong with me. Fifteen minutes later, I summoned all of the strength I had, wiped my tears off, and went into the store. Everything was louder and I felt like everyone could tell how I was feeling. I grabbed my things, kept my eyes on the ground, hit the self checkout and went back to my car. Got on the freeway, headed south. The more I drove, the more intense the feelings became until I was scared of my driving and made my way home. Somehow. By then, my partner had texted to see where I was (we were supposed to be meeting), and I had to tell her that I was in a bad place and was actually at home. She came over a few minutes later to find me slumped over in a mess of tears in my car, engine running, headlights on, parked diagonally in my driveway.
She helped me get out and go inside and I proceeded to just turn into a crying mess for the next hour, unbelievably sad, and for seemingly no real reason. It was a mood swing of none other for me. One of the worst I have ever, EVER, experienced. No big triggers. Just a day with some small normal everyday stresses that grew way out of proportion.
In a period of hours, I went from my normal self to literally mentally listing off the people who would and wouldn’t miss me. I went from calm to yelling and crying in my car as I drove down the freeway until I got home. Every ten seconds I wanted to flip the wheel and drive into the embankments I was passing. “What the fuck is wrong with me?!” “Nobody cares!” “I am so fucking sick of this life.” My mind was racing, my heart was beating fast, adrenaline was pumping through my veins, and there was no sign of the person I am. My heart was empty, no love, no happiness, no gratitude, nothing. Between the afternoon and sunset, I was a completely different person.
Then I remembered my doctor telling me something about the medication I am using to stop smoking. Chantix, aka Varenicline, has been known and is notorious for sending some people into a state of suicidal ideation and even psychosis. There I was. Three weeks without a cigarette, on the prescribed dose of Chantix, and completely consumed with wanting to die. My doctor told me if it happened, to stop taking it immediately, which I did. I talked to my doctor today and we both agreed that Chantix is off the table permanently for me. Although this is the first suicidal ideation I have had in over a year and the first time ever with Chantix, it is too risky. Chantix a few weeks ago kept me up all night with violent nightmares. And it has helped me stop smoking. Somehow in all of the madness in my mind yesterday, I never stopped to buy cigarettes. I was craving them big time, but was still able to say “NO” to the impulse to smoke again.
This isn’t an anti-Chantix post, but it is a post to warn people of the sudden onset of suicidality that it can cause and did cause yesterday. I was on the verge of leaving life behind just because I wanted to stop smoking (because I want to LIVE) and a pharmaceutical drug that was supposed to help me nearly took my life. In research I have done today, I have found countless sources of information with similar stories–and countless arguments from Pfizer about how it doesn’t cause any problems. I don’t want to lose a friend or loved one to smoking…and especially to this medication. The abrupt and severe onset of suicidal thinking has really scared me and I want people to know that it is real for some of us.
If you are ever feeling suicidal, contact me, contact a friend, call family, call your doctor, call 988, call 911, go to the emergency room or something. Please don’t go for a drive or try to out think it. Me trying to be a personal hero yesterday almost cost me my life. I was so embarrassed because it simply is not who I am today. I am not a suicidal person and I let my pride and ego get behind the wheel and drive me towards death.
Chantix has helped millions of people successfully stop smoking, but it may not be worth the risk, especially if you have any history of depression or suicidal ideation. I hope this blog helps others weigh the huge risks and benefits of this medication.
Sending all of my love to everyone suffering with suicidal ideation and/or battling an addiction. You are seen. Your battle is real. I love you.
How many times per day do you say “I love you” to yourself or practice some form of self-love?
At one point in my life, the answer was simply, “ZERO.” I didn’t. I did the exact opposite and told myself all the ways in which I was unlovable, imperfect, flawed, broken, horrible, unworthy, and helpless. For almost my entire life up until the past few years when I realized that most of those negative and self-destructive thoughts were completely false.
I, like you, am LOVABLE and LOVED, am NOT broken, am NOT horrible, am NOT unworthy, and am NOT helpless. If you noticed, I skipped the word “flawed” because (like you) I have my flaws but they do not make me a bad person or unlovable. My flaws and imperfections not only DO NOT define me, but infact they are perfectly normal. Because nobody is perfect, including you. Can you accept that first? Once you find acceptance in the FACT that you are imperfect, you can start building on the efforts to show yourself some love.
How does this following challenge make you feel just thinking about it: In the morning, go into your bathroom and do your normal tasks…then take 60 seconds to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, (insert your name here).” Say it slowly and methodically. Try to convince yourself that you are speaking the truth (because you are).
For many of us, we might not even want to look into the mirror and stare at ourselves, let alone have a talk about love. But it is important. As you say, “I love you” to the mirror, listen to the thoughts that arise. Write them down in your phone or journal and when you have time at a later moment, write something about each one and why you believe it. Then, write down some possible reasons why it may not be true or find a way to reframe it.
For me, I remember looking at the mirror and saying, “I love you Tukayote.” And then my brain was filled with all of the reasons why I shouldn’t love myself. Afterall, I was (and still am) overweight, was a smoker at the time, had (still have) bipolar disorder, my daughters weren’t (and still aren’t) talking to me, I was unemployed, and single. I had/have gray hairs in my beard, and thinning hair on top of my head. I was barreling into my 40s with nothing to really show for it except two failed marriages, and jobs I couldn’t hold down.I was not in the best physical shape and I was severely depressed.
How could I love myself with so many unlovable qualities? Simple, I stopped focusing on the negatives and starting finding things to be grateful for. I sought acceptance. Instead of telling myself that I couldn’t possibly love myself because of these things, I started writing down what others may see to be true. Afterall, despite my hatred of myself, people still loved me. Why? Because they saw who I was deep down inside. A broken man trying his best to get back on his feet. I radically accepted that I was overweight, smoker, bipolar, depressed, estranged from his daughters, unemployed, single, graying, balding, failed marital partner, nothing major to show for my 30’s, etc… How could I possibly see myself differently though? These were all true things!
I decided to reframe my view of myself and find gratitude in everything I hated. Yes, gratitude.
I am an active adult with some extra weight, I am mindful of my activity level and diet, and I am grateful that I have the health that I do for my age; I am a smoker who is seeking resources to stop smoking and I am grateful for the lessons smoking has taught me and for having resources to help stop; I have bipolar disorder, it is well managed because I take my medication and see my doctor on a routine basis, and I am grateful for the medication and treatment team I have; I am depressed but I took the initiative to enroll in a research study that is helping me immensely which I am extremely grateful for; I am estranged from my daughters, I know why, I am never going to go down the same path again, I am taking steps to make myself a better father, one day we will be reunited and I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from the experience and for the resources that have helped me cope with the estrangement; I am unemployed and it is a gift (that I am so grateful for) that has allowed me to focus my energy on loving myself and improving the things I struggle with; I am single and although I would prefer companionship, I have full autonomy to be myself and work on myself for which I am grateful (because many people are stuck in controlling, abusive, relationships and can’t seem to escape); I am graying and balding and it is a beautiful sign of aging that I have earned through many stressful moments that I thought would break me–but they didn’t and I am so grateful for that; I failed in my marriages and I am grateful to have learned major lessons from it that made me a better person; and I have nothing to show from the first 7 years of my 30s (even though I have since realized that I have lots to show for it), but there are three more years that I can shape into something better, which I am grateful for.
Acceptance and gratitude turns the frowns upside down.
Bottom line, I sat down and reflected on the messages I was telling myself and found ways to accept the facts and change the narrative by adding gratitude. I changed the messages I was telling myself and continue to challenge any negative messages I have today in the same manner.
I also started reading affirmations to myself each day. I started sharing these with people and learning that I was NEVER ALONE in my struggles. And by sharing my story, other people have been able to start making the changes in their lives necessary to fall in love with themselves.
Loving yourself is hard work and it is totally worth it. Hating ourselves is miserable and affects us mentally and physically. It spills over onto our closest people, friends, partners, and coworkers. Loving ourselves spills over onto everyone who interacts with you. They too feel this love and you are better able to love them when you have love for yourself.
Do you struggle with negativity and self-hate? Do you feel like you are unlovable and unable to love every part of who you are? I can relate and I can help. Lets chat. Contact me here anytime, 24/7. Last, and very important, if you are in crisis or want to talk to someone anonymously, call or text 988 anytime 24/7.
Jesus. Monday will be three weeks without a cigarette. Four days without nicotine. It’s a wonder that I haven’t had a real breakdown. My app says that I got 24 hours of my life back already. And I have saved $200. Its adding up.
And now I have some mental capacity to try to understand why I smoked. And it’s simple, it’s an escape from discomfort. Everytime I pick it up the habit again, it’s been after a conflict or abuse. Everytime I light back up after quitting, it’s because someone hurt me.
I get hurt and I relapse.
Now that’s something I can process and work with. Why do I go there (cigarettes) instead of to something else, hopefully healthier? That’s the question I am now asking myself, and it’s a deep dig. After twenty years of smoking, there are layers to dig through for these answers.
After a relapse, I use cigarettes to paint every single moment of boredom, stress, anxiety, or even happiness with color. An hour at a time. Until the next one. Sometimes without thought. Just the hourly motion of lighting up.
I’m fucking done with the cycle. I am not going into my forties as a smoker. And I am going to do my absolute best to never use nicotine again.
I have successfully avoided 321 cigarettes in 16 days. That’s probably equal to thousands of cravings that I have consciously said no to. I am doing this. It’s working. That’s thousands of wins.
I should write a blog I told myself. So here it is.