Category Archives: self affirmation

Birthday Thoughts

Today is my 43rd birthday.

One year ago today, I wrote my first blog post. I was so distraught and so completely rocked with grief and emotion, my head and heart felt like they were exploding. I was working through SO MUCH and I needed an outlet. So, I bought a laptop, and I started writing. Straight from my heart, straight from my gut. All of my hurt and my pain came pouring out of me. And, one year later, I have this amazing written history of my life and my struggles and my victories and most importantly, my progress.

This post was originally going to be about all of the things I have learned about myself this past year – a victory post. And yes, I have come a long way; from literally hitting rock bottom (at least a dozen times) to squaring off with my demons and winning. I have come to understand myself more than I ever thought possible. I am beginning to believe that there is a light at the end of this tunnel and that light belongs to me and no one else.

I am the creator of that energy, that power, that resilience.

But in this moment, right now, I am so completely overwhelmed with gratitude. It feels like it is choking me; I am surrounded by LOVE. I am literally being flooded with it as my community, my tribe, my friends, my family, send me messages of “happy birthday”. A year ago, I did not know that I had a family of friends waiting for me. A group of people who would love me and lift me up and catch me when I fell. A literal tribe of friends who have my back completely.

I felt so alone.

So, here I am, sitting in my bed once again, crying on my birthday. But the tears are different this time. They are tears of disbelief, wonder, thankfulness, joy, and love. I can say with certainty that I love my life. I love my children, my family, and my friends. And most importantly, I am finding a love for myself that is deep and profound and never ending.

I have a new tattoo – it is a phoenix on fire. I had no idea that a year ago I had predicted that I would be okay; that I was a phoenix. But I am; I absolutely am. I am rising from these fucking ashes and reclaiming my power.

Accepting love, feeling love, and exploding with a disbelief and a certainty that I am okay.

My post from a year ago:

Today is my 42nd birthday.

I woke up all alone in my bed. All alone in my house. There should be laughter and chatter and people and love, but its empty, and my life feels empty as a result.

My husband moved out this past October – taking some space. My kids are with me half as much as they were just five short weeks ago. I did not choose this. I did not want to have a life without my family intact.

I opt out. I choose happiness over this shit storm of uncertainty and heartache. I want my goddamn family back. I want my husband back. Not the asshole who hurt me time and again. Not the one who betrayed my trust and my heart over and over. Not the man who lashed out and said damaging, hurtful things. Not the man who shamed and blamed me. Not the man who fell in love with a 30-year-old who lives in a fucking van. Not that man.

I want the man I spent the last 16 years building a life and a family with. The man who had my back at every turn. The father of my children. The man who laughed with me and looked at me with awe, care, and compassion. The man who adored me, who loved me, who would never have given up on me.

And now? I am invisible, unworthy, and forgotten. I am supposed to be someone I cannot be and I am stuck.

Or maybe, this is not the case at all. Maybe this is an opportunity. Maybe this is a beginning, a chance, a new hope, a new start. A new life. One where I learn to roar and soar and be the most amazing version of myself there is.

Perhaps I will grow, change, and step out of this shell that has bound me to others, to my husband, to my children. I have been leaking out the very essence of myself, for what feels like forever. I have been losing what I needed the most.

ME.

Maybe this is the new life I always needed (and possibly wanted) without ever consciously knowing it. I will find my path; it is infinite, open, and endless with possibility. I am strong, I am empowered, I am fierce. I am the Phoenix and I will rise from these ashes. I will cry out and soar above all of this shit. There will be no stopping the invincible self that lies within me; that has always been within me. My strength, my inner fire; they are there, alive within me, and on their way out.

Step out of my way. I am beginning to roar.

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Chrysalis Soup

From National Geographic:

But what goes on inside a pupa? We know that a larva releases enzymes that break down many of its tissues into their constituent proteins. Textbooks will commonly talk about the insect dissolving into a kind of “soup”, but that’s not entirely accurate. Some organs stay intact. Others, like muscles, break down into clumps of cells that can be re-used, like a Lego sculpture decomposing into bricks. And some cells create imaginal discs—structures that produce adult body parts. There’s a pair for the antennae, a pair for the eyes, one for each leg and wing, and so on. So if the pupa contains a soup, it’s an organized broth full of chunky bits.

I have decided that at least for the time being, I am something akin to the ‘goo’ or ‘soup’ within a chrysalis.

I am somewhere in between a cute, chubby caterpillar moseying along, and a majestic and magical butterfly, floating and flitting through life. I am a mess of goop safely enclosed inside of my casing. Working on changing, reforming, and basically reinventing myself. When you think about it like this, it becomes a beautiful mess. A mess filled with hope and limitless possibilities. There are no rules; there is no formula. I can emerge from my sticky space as anything I want.

This feels incredibly powerful, and hope bubbles up effervescently inside of my heart.

In retrospect, as I look back on the last year after my divorce, I was in heaps of denial and running to other guys and relationships to ease the grief and the pain I was so terrified of. It wasn’t a conscious choice – my subconscious fear of abandonment was driving my behavior. And that terror of feeling alone and invisible has been a major player for my entire life.

Running. Always running. 

But something has shifted yet again. And I feel as though my body, my very core, is beginning to take shape within my shell. I am finding my strength and my resilience and using them to assemble what will become a new me.

I had a major breakthrough in therapy today.

My entire life has been about running from grief. I did not want to deal with it as a child or as an adult. I was literally hiding from it – thinking I could live my life and avoid feeling forever.

I was dead wrong.

Last year when my husband left, I was thrown into complete emotional chaos. I was slammed with PTSD and grief; full-body-tackled. I was in a state of fight, flight, or freeze for months because my brain perceived my husband leaving as abandonment (it was) – just like it did when my dad died. My system was on overload and I felt helpless and completely out of control. My husband treated me like I was a crazy person and eventually, he left.

I realized in therapy today that, over the course of my life, I have come to view grieving as something you work through, get over, and eventually move on from. Like there is this ‘end game’ or a fixed point on a timeline where you are miraculously all better. As a result of this mindset, I have been literally exhausted – emotionally and physically -because I am still running; this time, to an imaginary finish line. I have become frustrated, impatient, and fed up with myself which is a completely unhealthy mindset to adopt.

I will never ‘get over’ the loss of my father. NEVER. My entire life I have felt incomplete, broken, like I didn’t fit in. I thought I had a hole in the very core of my being. But I realized today that this isn’t true. At all. What I have failed to understand or accept is that even though my dad has been dead since I was 9 years old, his essence, the values and love and validation he instilled in me as a little girl, are still there; inside of my heart. If I accept that he is still a part of me, and always has been, then that hole fills right up.

My entire life I have neglected to incorporate the parts of him that filled me up as a child: the validation, the connection, the love, the care and compassion, the play and the laughter. My belief was that, because he was dead, my development ceased to follow a ‘normal’ path or trajectory and as a result, I was left incomplete.

There is no reason on earth why I cannot access all of those amazing things, those gifts he gave me as a child, now, as an adult. If I can hold onto those things in my heart and in my mind, and know with certainty that he is there (and always has been), then I am not broken. I am whole. I am safe and loved and I always have been. I can channel those things he instilled in me and use them as a source of strength, peace, and resilience. I can keep him in my heart in a protective way that lifts me up and keeps me feeling safe instead of invisible and alone.

And the best part of all of these realizations? All of that love and care and kindness that he gave me, that I am now anchoring to my heart, all of that is coming from within me.

I am reforming. I am changing and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Relationship Addiction

Hi.

My name is Amy and I am a relationship addict.

Yes, it is a thing. A very real and very debilitating thing.

From Ann Smith via Psychology Today:

The relationship addict experiences intense “abandonment anxiety”. This anxiety triggers panic, low self worth, feelings of emptiness, isolation, and possibly depression. The addict may believe they are worthless without their partner. They almost always feel unbearable emptiness. Love addiction is a compulsive, chronic craving and/or pursuit of romantic love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person. The causes of love addiction are fairly easy to identify: inadequate or inconsistent nurturing, low self esteem, absence of positive role models for committed relationships, and indoctrination with cultural images of perfect romantic love and happily ever after endings.

It dawned on me as I said goodbye to the last relationship I was in, just a week or so ago, that something wasn’t right with the way I was reacting to the loss. Something felt off, so I did what I do best, I did some investigative work on myself and my behavior. I took a look back at my actions with this person, within the relationship, and found myself kind of disgusted. I wasn’t necessarily shocked to discover that nothing about my behavior had been healthy or ‘normal’, just kind of disappointed. It was a realization that I didn’t want to make or admit.

But deep down, I knew that it was time to deal with it.

Finally.

I am addicted to love.

I was a rollercoaster of emotion and anxiety during my last relationship (something I thought was just me, in addition to my current grief over the divorce). I thought my explosive (head-over-heels love) and intense emotion was fueled by love and my big, huge heart. But, my anxiety would be more pronounced when I wouldn’t hear from him for longer than a few hours or, god forbid, an entire day. I would feel nothing short of despondent; panicky. And when his feelings didn’t seem to match my own in intensity or explosiveness, I got even more anxious and more emotional. It was exhausting. I have no idea why he put up with me.

Since we have said our respective goodbyes, I have been an anxious wreck. Mornings seem to be the hardest. I wake up, and without that good morning check-in fix, I feel anxious, undone, and completely alone.

To be perfectly honest, I feel terrified. But of what, I have no idea (a fact that is really pissing me off). I am home alone right now and literally just screamed to no one: “What the fuck are you so afraid of?!” And promptly burst into tears. Sigh.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a long, hard, uphill battle.

I have been this way for as long as I can remember. Ever since boys noticed me in the 8th grade (and I noticed them back). I suspect that the behavior took root because I grew up in a home without a father and had an emotionally distant mother who I didn’t easily connect with. I watched my father die and never had a male role model. After his death, my mother relied on me to be the other parent in the household. I was 9. Perhaps, as a result, I was left with a void, a hole, severely low self-esteem, and a debilitating fear of abandonment.

From http://www.loveaddictiontreatment.com:

Love (and relationship) addicts are terrified of abandonment. They rely on others to fulfill them, and to make them feel happy and whole. Without their love object, they feel worthless and incomplete. This is often due to a lack of love and nurturing from their primary caregivers while growing up. The abandonment they experienced may have been emotional (i.e. – their parents were physically present but emotionally detached), or physical – one or both of their parents left, died, was ill, or absent much of the time.

Perhaps my childhood ended at age 9? I am almost 43. That is 34 years of emptiness. Holy crap.

*shudder*

From what I have read, true love addiction is less about the search for love and more about finding a way to control tough emotions. Going from one relationship to another without any room for grieving, mourning, or processing through a previous loss means getting to avoid feeling those tough emotions. I thought I had a failsafe way to avoid dealing with my father’s death and subsequent abandonment shit when I married my first husband.

But that relationship didn’t satisfy me, so I found another more exciting guy and married him. We lasted 16 years. I thought I would be safe forever; we had 2 kids! That meant commitment – a guarantee, a promise, right?

Holy shit. NO.

When my second marriage failed, I had no choice but to deal with the grief from my father’s death (finally) which came back in one giant terrifying matzoh ball of horror. When that train wreck came, in addition to grieving my marriage and my family, it is no surprise that I ended up in the hospital.

But wait, I didn’t I really have to deal with any of it, did I? After I got out of the hospital, my subconscious knew just what to do. I did what I had always done when a relationship ended or seemed unsatisfying. I jumped right back into online dating and I hopped right into a new romance. Surely this new and exciting person would save me and help me feel better and I would be happy?!

Again, holy shit. NO.

Since the split a year ago, I have had 3 relatively serious, sexually intimate relationships. When each one ended, I broke all over again. They were unhealthy relationships (though I didn’t think so or realize it at the time) as they were a means of getting that love ‘fix’ and avoiding the big, huge, debilitating emotions that accompany being alone (for me). I was still hiding from my demons; my inability to feel whole, complete, or satisfied with who I am as a person without that constant need for external validation. Seeking internal validation from external sources for most of my life has done so much damage I really don’t know where to begin picking up the pieces.

For me, being alone feels like I am dying. And right now, in this moment, I feel like I am dying. The longest I have ever been single was a mere few weeks when I was 19 years old. It was during that time period that I had a suicide attempt. That is how scary it felt then. It feels just as scary now but thankfully, I am 42 and have 2 beautiful children that anchor me to this world.

I know that this realization/admission is huge. I know I am on the right path and acknowledging my underlying behaviors and motivations has felt very scary but also very empowering.

Life and love feel like this big ball of tangled up shit that I have to finally sit down with, examine, and sort through. On my own. My goal is to be single for 6 months.

That is not until April. Gulp.

Am I scared? Hell yes. I am completely terrified.

I have been leaking out my power and my essence and my very self all over the damn place. It stops now.

It is time for me to go and find all of my missing pieces. And put myself back together.

I am Rebuilding Amy.

 

 

Resources on love and relationship addiction for you:

http://www.loveaddictiontreatment.com/the-roots-of-love-addiction/

http://loveaddicts.org/40questions.html

Fuck. Yes.

Some of you might have already read, or heard about, Marc Manson’s blog post entitled, Fuck Yes or No. In it, he talks about radical and enthusiastic consent (albeit in a frustratingly heteronormative way). His take home message is a good one though:

Don’t choose someone or something in your life if the answer isn’t a resounding, “FUCK YES!”.

I want to surround myself with “FUCK YES!” from this point forward. Somewhat ironically, I think the key to this lies in the ability to say “FUCK NO!” and mean it.

This concept makes so much sense to me after this last year of saying ‘yes’ when I most definitely should have said ‘no’. I allowed people into my heart and into my life who really did not deserve to be there. I continually put my needs in the proverbial backseat just to fill a deep void within myself. I was so paralyzed by my fear of abandonment and my complete lack of identity outside of my role as a wife and a mother, I chose to be invisible. It wasn’t an intentional choice. At the time it was the safest choice, and because of that, it became my only choice.

My heart breaks for the person I was last year. It hurts to think about all of the ways in which I leaked myself out to everyone else. Leaving nothing of any substance behind. I want to scoop that person up into my arms and snuggle the shit out of her. I was so lost and so confused and trying so hard to please everyone else that I lost myself completely.

I am not the same person I was last year. And this is a REALLY GOOD THING.

Let’s talk about Boundaries!

We all need boundaries. Saying ‘no’ is so vitally important. ‘No’ to relationships that do not meet our needs, saying ‘no’ to overextending ourselves at work, or at home, or with complicated matters of the heart. Setting boundaries as a means of separating your emotions from others, and recognizing that your feelings belong to you and no one else, and vice versa, is huge. This is big work, people!

When we set clear boundaries with ourselves and with others, we are further developing our sense of self. If I say ‘no’ to someone, to a relationship that doesn’t serve me, I am exercising that part of myself that leads to empowerment and a clearer sense of who I am and what I want. I am flexing those mental and psychological muscles that perpetuate a confidence within me that reinforce this fact: even when boundaries feel scary and difficult, they make me stronger in the long run. I am holding onto core truths within myself and acknowledging that my needs, my desires, and my path matter more than literally anyone else. It is not selfish, narcissistic, or cruel.

It is vital.

I am setting boundaries with people; with relationships. I am setting boundaries with my children! Society sends this really fucked up message that once you have children, your needs take a backseat to theirs (this is especially true of mothers). I call BULLSHIT! Separating yourself from your role as a mother or a father is paramount and deserves a blog post all to itself (next time).

I am not settling for anything less than what I want. I am doing my utmost to stay in integrity with myself. This is REALLY HARD WORK; to say goodbye to people and connections that feel so good. Admitting the hard truth, that ultimately, these relationships will not serve me. It hurts! Saying no, letting go, drawing lines in the imaginary sand, feeling like I am letting people down if I don’t say ‘yes’, all the time, to everyone and everything.

I am an empath, a mother, a nurturer, an INFJ, and it goes against every fiber of my being to say ‘no’ to anyone. My tendency to leak myself out into the ether is so strong I am constantly checking in with myself. I want to help people be their best selves and discover who they have the potential to become. And this is so incredibly dangerous for me, my heart, and my relationships with people.

At some point, someone will say a resounding FUCK YES! to me. Until then,

I am only responsible for myself.

And I cannot save the damn world.

 

Manifesto 

I got my name back this morning. I am once again Amy Moreno; officially. There is so much power in this for me; it feels like being reborn. The entire process wasn’t that exciting but the aftermath spawned this; I am on chapter 5 my friends, and I have never been happier.

I will never lose sight of who I am.

I will never get lost in another relationship - of any kind.

I will stay in complete integrity with myself.

I will do my utmost to be present in every moment. 

I will not judge my thoughts.

I will not judge my emotions.

I will walk with my heart open;
and my eyes wide open.

I recognize that I will face difficult times;
and with those times will come difficult emotions.

I recognize that my difficult times and emotions will PASS.

I will work hard.

I will try harder.

I will make mistakes and embrace those mistakes as learning
and being brave enough to have tried. 

I will approach life with a gentle awareness
and a curiosity that sparks within me a new-found appreciation 
for all that I am, 
all that I have, 
and all that is coming my way.

Sex In Your Forties…Own it.

I am officially a paid writer!! Here is my article for a great sex-positive site called Kinkly.

https://www.kinkly.com/sex-in-your-forties-own-it/2/14537

Let me know what you think.

Amy

 

Forward Momentum

Something amazing has been happening. It doesn’t seem real – it seems too good to be true.

But it IS real. And it IS true.

I have begun to accept and to feel my emotions as they come up; for the first time since I was a little girl. My entire life I have denied myself feelings of any kind; sadness seemed too scary and happiness seemed like a lie. Trauma will do this. It is the brain creating coping mechanisms to avoid the horror of the initial pain; the feelings associated with the traumatic event.

Over the course of my life, I learned to compartmentalize my feelings and deny them. I ignored and shoved away anything that seemed too scary – fear, pain, loss, hurt, even happiness – they all felt like too much. My emotions terrified me and felt as though they would swallow me whole.

This is not really living.

I was paralyzed with fear; dreading that moment when I wouldn’t be able to avoid my own emotions. Stuck in this endless cycle of denial and then the inevitable explosion of emotion when there was nothing I could do but be consumed by feelings of such intensity that they would leave me reeling for days. Days of self-loathing, days of feeling hopeless, ashamed, and terrified of the next time I would have to fall of the edge of that cliff.

But now, I am noticing a new trend.

After my husband moved out, I would crash; curl up into a ball wherever I was. Go fetal and sob so loudly sometimes, that I would scare the crap out of the dog. It would take me literal days to recover and I would feel completely hijacked by my own brain – a scary and alarming way to feel. I would have to call him when I tanked as, I believed, that he was the only person who could help me to feel safe; to pull me out of that dark place. Then with more time and more space, I stopped calling him. I noticed that the days became entire afternoons. Eight hours became six. Three hours became two, and just yesterday, I felt sad and cried and felt better after a brief hour of hurt.

I am recognizing this, and acknowledging this, as healthy, amazing, and empowering. This is healing. This is forward momentum. This is personal growth. This is what life as a fierce woman looks like.

This is what living life FEELS like.

I feel my shit when it arises, and every single time it gets easier. Easier to get up off of the floor and stand back up on my own two feet. I know now that I can trust my feelings – sad, happy, despondent, afraid, excited. They flow through me, move on, and they don’t consume me. It is the best thing in the world, to know that I am okay and I am no longer afraid of my own mind. I am in charge. I am the one calling the shots. I am present in myself and I know exactly who I am.

Take that world! Girl on fire is finally here.