A letter to myself

Hi Maria,

I won’t ask how you are because you kind of already know. I am writing this letter to you as a reminder for when it gets hard to look back and see how far you’ve come.

A year ago today (technically 02/09/17, but like you haven’t gone to bed yet so whatever) you were laid off from your dream job…correction what you thought was your dream job. You could say you were blindsided. You could say it tapped into your biggest insecurities of not being enough. And probably a billion more things. But it was the biggest blessing to ever happen to you. A blessing of no longer accepting being grateful to have this job.

That is hard to say because you look back on the last year, and most will see the negative. Losing a job. Becoming sick. Starting a new job in an unhealthy environment which you later quit with no backup. However, you also look back and see a bunch of positives. In no particular order:

  1. Started running again
  2. Got an open run with Matt Damon Improv
  3. Strengthen your spirituality
  4. Performed in two sketch shows
  5. Established yourself as a solo performer
  6. Started producing, directing, and teaching
  7. Strengthen your relationship with your mom
  8. Got a roommate
  9. Became closer with friends
  10. Made amazing friends you call family
  11. Opened up more
  12. Chicago Nights
  13. Volunteered
  14. Burlesque
  15. Stopped complaining about lack of representation and did something about it
  16. Your birthday weekend/#ScorpioSeason
  17. Getting paid to travel and perform
  18. Didn’t give up

There are so many things that you are forgetting, but for all the bad times where you just wanted to sleep and not wake up…you woke up and got out of bed. And some days, that was enough. You are enough.

I know Mama, you moved to Chicago to learn improv, but in the three and half years since, you have become a butterfly goddess. Some people will judge and not understand, and that is not your problem. All you truly need to worry about is you and yours. After that, you can’t control everything.

Maria…had you’ve not gotten laid off, who knows what would have happened. Perhaps passed out on the train. Hospital. I don’t know. What I can tell you is someone was looking out for you. They knew your path was better by getting knocked down to get back up.

And yes, they’ll be days where you will want to quit. And there will be days where it’s just too much. And you’ll go through worse. But you cannot give up on yourself.

A year from now, you will be better with a dream life many are afraid to go after. Go to sleep love. You have a whole day of world domination a head of you.

Love,

Maria

My Shield

When I step on the scale
I try to play tricks
If I stand on one foot
If I stand on the side

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll weigh less
Maybe, just maybe, that number will validate me
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel better

About the shield of a body that has few protective layers
Layers that make it the strongest, yet weakest
This imperfectly, perfect body of mine

This layer for when I was bigger than all the girls in my class
This layer for when I wasn’t Mexican or White enough to sit or play with you
This layer for when my boyfriend didn’t take no for an answer
And I confused it for love
And this layer for the self-hate I tell myself in my darkest moments
Yet, smile through

It’s a shield that brings people in, but stops them from getting too close
But then gets mad when the boy I’m dating stops calling, gets engaged, and has a baby by a woman out of no where

It’s the loneliest of shields
But sometimes it can be the best of shields
This imperfectly, perfect body of mine

I’ll never not be the bigger girl
But I got hair and body that many pay millions to a plastic surgeon for
The scars on my knee from two knee surgery
Show my warrior spirit
The nose I got from the Queen of my Nana, that I once called a witch nose
Show the spirts that guide me

And this butt of mine
I’ll sometimes catch it in a mirror and ask myself
“Girl, have you been doing squats?”

The shield of my body
Has a few colorful layers
That make it weak and strong

This layer can talk to anyone
This layer loves the sound of her feet when she runs
This layer got herself a Masters degree
This layer moved across the country with a home or a job for the dream of laughs

My shield, while dented and imperfectly perfect, is the only shield I got
And while I’ll pick and tear it a part
Shows my journey more than any number on scale will

This shield of mine has protective and color layers
Imperfectly, Perfect
Strong and weak

This shield is me.

 

 

Running and Butterfly Goddess

I do my best thinking on my run. Running helps me to clear my head, helps my anxiety, and helps me build my inner and outer strength.

Running is also my reflection time. Reflection on building up a better life for myself, family, and community. What I could have done better. And what are the next steps. All this and more are probably the reasons why I don’t like running with others. This is something to think about as my marathon training becomes higher mileage, but that’s a topic for another day.

After each run, I post on my Instagram about my run. It started as a way to keep people in the loop about my mental health, but it then became a place to keep me accountable and also as a part of my healing. Mental Health is often a topic we sweep under the rug. And when we become sick due to our mental health because we can’t physically see it, we often don’t give it the attention needed or admit we are sick.

It took me months before I could admit I was sick. I knew I was sick when a friend who was suppose to come out for the weekend canceled on me, and I didn’t leave my house or my bed for a weekend. This sounds normal to some, however for me, I am almost never home and if I am, I am working on art or something. But I didn’t admit or do anything about it.

The second biggest clue was when I was on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix in March 2017. The flight was very bumpy and we were flying through a storm. When the plane dropped, and said to myself, “I don’t want to die this sad.” I didn’t know why I thought that.

I finally admit I was sick in July 2017. My best friend was in town, and we were at a pizza place in Chicago. I just started having an anxiety attack in the middle of the restaurant and crying. My best friend was trying to help, but there was nothing she could do. My body started tensing and then I couldn’t move. We were finally able to leave, but I was at my worse.

There were other moments that followed and were in between these big three that lead to my mental break. Poor diet. Not taking of myself. Poor work environment. However, these moments stand out because it shows how it gradually got worse. I’ve always had anxiety and depression, but like many, I would move on and keep doing what I was doing. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results. Something like that.

However, I didn’t acknowledge what years of doing that really hurt me until it physically took a toll on me. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t operate. I felt broken. My mom was the biggest help in my life. She would call doctors, sit on the phone with me, and talk to me. My mom is my angel on earth. With her help, therapy, and my framily, I was able to heal and become better. I started building confidence and merging out of my cocoon.

This is why it probably stung the most when this past weekend, a family member used my anxiety as if was a weakness. The context had nothing to do with my anxiety, but a Facebook post that had gotten out of control. When I tried to put a stop to it all, I was told that “anxiety may not be the issue.” When I said they had crossed a line and not to talk about my mental health, they then said something to the affect of agree. Do not bring up your mental health if you do not want people talking about it.

I am happy to talk about my mental health, but not as a weapon of weakness. The more one tells me to stop, the louder I will become. I do not talk about my mental health for others as burden. I talk about it for myself and to bring awareness. It’s healing for me and hopefully will help more people to talk about their journey and get help. It took me a long time to admit that my mental health was not a weakness. That it was good to talk about it. That I wasn’t crazy. And that I am worthy. It does hurt when someone you love decides to go low when you were trying to figure out what was happening.

It’s taken me a long time to be the person I am today and be so open, both online and off. I never shared hurtful moments like my sexual assault, binge eating, or my anxiety as to not disturb the peace. There were bits and pieces, but I wanted to be liked so much that I kept a lot of it hidden. I didn’t want to be too different than what I already was, and I didn’t want too much attention, even though I craved it.

Along with the bad, I never shared too much of the good like my work ethic, education accomplishments, and positives in relationships which is sad as well because I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging. That I was doing good while my community may not have been.

It’s a common struggle and fear for many when our good and bad gets thrown back at us as if it is a weakness. It’s a poor tactic used to silence when there is nothing else. It’s often a tactic some use against those trying to help them, but when used it doesn’t matter what happened before as it crosses lines.

To those who choose to throw or clap back by using mine/your pain and happiness against me/you is not a reflection of you. It is them.

I almost let it get to me, but I am butterfly goddess.

I am proud of the body that allows me to run, dance, and hug those I care about. I am proud of my mind that allows me to create, think, and build. I am proud of my anxiety and depression as it shows me the depths of hell, but also has taught me tools needed to better my life. I am proud of my voice that allows me to speak, tell my truth, and be a warrior.

I am a proud woman of color, and this world will never shut me down.