All posts by Andrea Gardner

I am my own therapist now!

I don’t know if anyone reads these words or why they would be here, but if you find yourself lurking and feel you may have the same struggle as me then I hope you can find solidarity in my words. Or at least find a distraction while you read about someone else’s struggles.

I have anxiety. Many people don’t know this upon first looking at me and many still don’t know even if they had known me for a long time. I am really good at concealing it for one reason, my anxiety only comes out when I am dating someone. My disorder is purely phobia based, there was no traumatic childhood that caused me to be anxious, there was no horrible ex who started my descent into fear; I just grew up sheltered and never learned to accept certain aspects of life. My phobias are: fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of spiders. The first three are purely mental states that don’t actually manifest into anything. I can’t avoid failure like I can avoid spiders. I can’t avoid rejection or the future, I can only limit the amount of exposure I get to it and that’s not a way to live. The only way to limit my exposure is by refusing to do anything risky, anything that I have never experienced before. That’s not living, that’s survival.

I once became accustomed to my fear of spiders. One summer, a medium sized spider decided to make a home between my window and the screen. It was perfectly wedged so that if I slide my window open then the spider would crawl into my room. Since I could not afford to move again, I decided I would let it be until winter would inevitably kill it. Well, this spider brought friends and what turned into a small problem led to more and more spiders making homes in and around my window. Some of the spiders were massive and just staring at them made my skin crawl. Winter came around and I saw little of them, but some remained, reminding me to never open my window. Then spring came around and those spiders had babies and the cycle continued. While these creatures made lives outside my window, I was able to observe them. I spent weeks avoiding the window and then I would look at them in glancing and finally sat down and observed them. They were still creepy to me, but the internal alarm within me became muffled when it saw that there was no real threat. I was protected by glass and even if they came inside they were not harmful (I did research on the type of spider they were). They looked sinister and harmful, but they weren’t and I got comfortable with spiders. I wouldn’t pick them up, but if I was outside of my room and found myself face to face with these creatures then I would not scream or run away. I wouldn’t feel the need to kill it either, I would just continue on after acknowledging it. In the back of my mind, I still knew I should be afraid, but my experiences told me that I had been afraid of nothing. I made spiders to be scarier than they really were.

I told that story because my other fears, failure, rejection, the unknown, are just like the spiders. I make them out to be scarier than they are and because I have this fear of them, I avoid them like the plague. But the above is exactly what I need – exposure therapy. To face my fears and understand that the intrusive thoughts I have are harmless and I can face what may come my way. I have to sit down with my fears and study them until they no longer cause me stress. Then I will be free. After that? Who knows what may happen but I’m not going to be scared of what lies beyond my control. You shouldn’t be scared either.

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The Dangers of Internalizing Emotions

First off, I know it’s been a while! And I say this every single time I write but it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want. Secondly, shout out to the guy that said he wanted a follow up to my Passangers review, gonna be honest say that’s probably not going to happen cause too much time has passed since I’ve seen the movie and I really don’t want to watch it again.

So tonight, I got rejected. Rejection happens to everyone (yes, including me. Who could resist me!). I had gone a date with this person and said we should have a second date. At the time she agreed so I tried to set up a dinner date (where I would cook) and in return I got a message saying she wasn’t feeling the whole dating thing and she hopes everything in my life goes well. Lovely message, pretty civil. My heart sank when I read it. I had already planned the night in my head and to hear that it wasn’t going to happen shocked my world. How could someone I barely know (who barely knows me) reject my awesome dinner idea? She wasn’t going to the plan I had already set out for her. She wasn’t following the script! Please be aware of the sarcasm. After a long conversation with my parents I realized some stuff…

First off, it is okay to be sad that something didn’t work out with someone even if you didn’t really know them. I was sad from the expectations and not her. Secondly, you should recognize a blessing in disguise. I was so determined to make this work (I’ll explain why I was trying so hard later) that I totally missed red flags. I missed the fact that she flaked on me at one point without an explanation and wouldn’t give me an explanation until I asked. I missed that we very much didn’t have much in common to begin with (she was really hot, so I was kinda blind to this fact). I missed the fact that she had just gotten out a serious relationship not too long ago. And I missed the biggest red flag of all, when she wanted to have sex and I told her “No” she then wanted to go home. That last should conjure an audible gasp that I would allow something like that slide. I was desperate to be in an intimate relationship and having a nice face alone sold it for me. But why was I so desperate?

Well here comes the explanation about why I was so determined to make things work. Let’s go back one layer, I was dumped over the summer. It was only a four month relationship but I refused to cry over the loss of this person. I’m graduating college rather soon (like in 2 months) and I don’t have a secure job set. Last year, I was forced to cut off contact with an ex who I had been in a relationship with for 2 years. What does all this have to do with the other? I have refused to process anything that was going on these situations. I quickly tried to move on with my ex of 2 years, I quickly tried to move on with my ex of 4 months, I quickly tried to create structure in my life knowing my future is very uncertain in the coming months. I internalized everything and have essentially been screwing myself over trying to make up for all the things I haven’t processed.

I can physically feel my life losing control, day by day and I am desperate to find stability again. I want stability like I had in my 2 year relationship to the point where I am trying to push my other relationships forward at lightening speed in order to get that feeling of security back. I am trying to rush a job that I am not even sure I really want so I can have security in my future. I tried to rush through college so I could have stability in a career I didn’t even have yet. I am facing rejection left and right because people can sense my intensity. This is a shitty feeling.

I mean, I do understand that I am not all at fault with the relationship aspect of my problems. People have their own rights and can whatever they want and if having dinner at someone’s house is too intimate for you then I can’t help you (who gives up free food? I mean have your priorities set!). But this stems from my perfectionist personality and desires to be in control of everything. I am coming to realize that I have no control over anything and it’s difficult. I cursed the entire month of September as being bad luck because I faced so much rejection and uncertainty; now that I am in October, and these problems keep arising, I have to come to the realization that months are not autonomous and that these things that keep happening over and over can be self-inflicted.

So now I have a new self project – going back to square one and understanding the world will work the way it needs to and I don’t have control over that. It’s time I take (another) step back from dating and reassess my goals and priorities. It’s time I allow myself closure for things that will never truly have an end. It’s time I process my emotions and allow myself to feel them. Finally, it’s time for me to relax and trust the process. No more rushing into things or chasing time. My goals are to take a step back from social media, take a step back from dating, rediscover hobbies (or develop new ones), focus on friendships, make peace with my past, find excitement in my future (rather than dread), and accept the things that are out of my control. I must work toward building my confidence again to the point where rejection doesn’t give me into an epiphany where I’m forced to write down my feelings in order to sleep tonight. Rejection happens to everyone and it will continue to happen, but I am proud of how I directly responded to it. I am proud of myself for getting to where I am at and I am already proud of where I will be. I just have to remember that I am worth more and deserve better (something an ex said to me which I know understand fully).

If you feel like you are internalizing things or notice you keep making the same mistake then step back and ask why. Ask yourself what you want and where you are going and don’t be afraid to go for it. I want a real relationship and I will not settle with the hook-up culture around me. What do you want?

New Year, New Me(probably not) Revisited

Two years (almost to the date) I wrote about my new years resolutions and what had happened in 2014. It is surreal to go back and read myself again. I sounded so naive and innocent yet hopeful. I look back on that time and I feel negative energy yet reading my writing actually made me miss the way I used to be. Maybe I was writing from a censored point of view since my ex would read my writings. What I wrote and how I felt certainly didn’t match up because I was actually miserable in my relationship at the time. So I feel it’s only right for me to recap again so that I may come back to this blog in another two years and talk about how naive and innocent I am in this moment.

2015, all i can remember from that year was the complete downward spiral into depression and my first big break up. It killed me. From August to December I was all over the place emotionally. It’s a shame, in retrospect, that I let someone like that take away my happiness for so long and cause me to associate that time of my life with bad memories. Although I did start to date other people and, honestly, that break up ultimately liberated me. I am glad I went through it and I just wish I could go back in time and tell my former self that the pain I am feeling isn’t real that you will learn to be happy again without being in a relationship (it just may take a couple more bad relationships to accept this).

2016, started out rough and I ended up celebrating a club for 18+. It was okay, but it idk it just didn’t feel right for me yet. All of 2016 was a rollercoaster. I had to completely cut off ties with my ex and I started the long hard journey to self-discovery. I really wanted to work on myself so I had to take the first steps. This led me to an incredible internship with the video production team for my university and I get to film and work with the Pac-12 broadcast team and be on the field and court for sporting events. On top of that I decided I was going to focus on friends instead of relationships and I am actually having connections with people on a platonic level for the first time in a long time.

I actually want to go out and have fun now, I want to invite people over to watch movies, I want to talk to people instead of sit in my room and wait for my life to get better. I’m actually making my life better. I told myself in 2015 I was going to work on myself and in 2017 I am entering the new year, having felt like I am actually completing that promise.

I can’t say that I feel like my old self again. I don’t want to feel like the way I did before. I was angry, miserable, alone, and I didn’t know how to articulate my thoughts properly. I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t do life on my own and I still struggle with that. I still feel lonely and I do still think being in a relationship will enrich my life but I know that in the moments where I am being tested the most is the moments that I need to remember. I may be sitting in my room without a call or text from a friend, but I know that this is only a passing moment.

I don’t claim to be completely healed or in the right mindset all the time. Hell, I don’t even claim to really believe in the words I wrote above, but I have to say them. I have to keep setting goals for myself. I have to write words that I feel uncomfortable writing because that lets me know what I need to work on. I got the ball rolling and I don’t want it to stop. And I believe in that.

Passengers (The Movie): A Review Part 1

To start off a happy new year to everyone in 2017!

Now to start off I would like to say what my official title of this piece will be since I’m sure it won’t fit: Passengers (The Movie): A Review on Why This Movie Made Me Uncomfortable. As you can tell there will be SPOILERS.

If you have read any other reviews on the movie you can tell that it kind of fell short of some’s expectations. What looked like a cool sci-fi flick that would delve into the madness of isolation and space exploration turned more into a non-consensual love story. It was non-consensual for the characters in the story and for the audience members because I felt I had not signed up for this movie when I agreed to pay my price.

The story is set up as so: Chris Pratt plays a mechanic aboard a spaceship that is transporting 5,000 passengers to a new planet to start a new civilization. Like all movies set in the future the usual cause for this is that Earth has become overpopulated, dirty, and everyone is a hipster so they are totally over it.

This magical journey is supposed to take 120 years; however, an asteroid comes crashing into the ship like the patriarchy. It causes tiny problems that eventually add up to big problems, and a woman is going to eventually solve the problems while a man takes credit for it. One of these problems is the autopilot operating system malfunctioning and awakening Chris Pratt with 90 years to spare.

As you can tell I forgot Pratt’s character’s name, and for good reason. To be honest, it wouldn’t matter if the character had a Pratt’s name or his own because the whole movie was Chris Pratt pretending to play a different personality when he isn’t really.

Here’s where the trailer kinda leaves us and while watching the film I kept wondering at what point was Jennifer Lawrence’s character (Aurora) going to wake up. If anyone has seen Sleeping Beauty you can see the obvious, slap-in-the-face, nod toward that story by literally naming JLaw’s character after sleeping beauty. If you know where I’m going (please tell me you do) you can guess what happens next.

After a year aboard the ship, alone, Pratt has exhausted all the fun things he can do on the ship and has basically done everything imaginable to try to wake up the sleeping crew (they are behind impenetrable doors). He is left depressed and suicidal. The only companion he has had is a robot bartender named Arthur (played by Michael Sheen).

As Pratt literally stands staring death in the face, he steps back into reality and chooses to live. Stumbling back to the center of the ship he comes across Aurora’s pod. Immediately smitten by her face and knowing nothing else of her he decides he’s in love because the plot calls for more material to be added.

Being alone on the ship for over a year has done a lot to Pratt and one man can only rub it out for so long before he becomes raw so you can probably tell what happens next. After much “turmoil” and mulling it over in his mind for what is perceived to be months…

HE WAKES HER UP. Oh! did I mention that once you awaken from the sleeping pod that you can’t be put back to sleep? I didn’t? Well that what happens!

I should clarify, Pratt didn’t wake her simply because he likes her face, no, he stalked her profile in the ship’s passenger database and listened to talk about herself and read some of her writing (cause she’s a writer).

Well she wakes up and meets Jim (I finally looked up his name in the movie, it’s Jim). He was a boy, she was a girl, can I make it anymore obvious? Yeah they fall in love, he doesn’t tell her that he woke her up, and then after a year of floating through CGI Space Hell™ Jim is ready to propose.

But that would be too easy and by this point in the movie I was yawning from the stereotypical heterosexuality in front of my eyes. I almost forgot I was watching a sci-fi film and thought it was a Disney movie, especially since, again, the main girl is named AFTER A DISNEY CHARACTER. Well, Aurora finds out and, understandably, she is pissed. Like really pissed. She avoids Jim and runs around the ship trying to get away from him. They share time with Arthur the robot bartender like he’s a child and they are in the middle of a custody battle. I can only imagine the awful things they said to Arthur about the other in an effort to try to sway his opinion like any parent does in the midst of a divorce (fingers crossed for bonus content of this).

Fast forward to the ship continuing to break down cause there is a fucking meteor in the power source and Jim never once questioned if something technical with the ship had gone wrong in order for him to wake up too early. Magically we have another pod malfunction and what luck! it’s the captain! Laurence Fishburne to the rescue! The captain is woken up for one soul purpose of giving dues ex machina. Seriously, that is the only thing he is there for because he wakes up, lets the two wacky duo know that the ship is breaking and he has the access code to every room left on the ship, then he dies. The one minority that appears in this already too long movie wakes up and dies. It’s almost like the casting director hired Fishburne and muttered under his breath: “That will show that we are accepting…”

Aurora is still pissed, but they gotta save the ship from being destroyed so they put their differences aside and save the day. I just love when movies with drama are so predictable that even when the climax is happening and there is a moment of “this character might die” you don’t fret because it’s going to have a story book ending.

Of course all characters (except the black guy) are fine in the end, even Arthur the lovable sassy robot bartender makes it out just fine. Aurora falls in love with Jim again and they live happily ever after.

Part 2 is going to explore my actual analysis of the story, I didn’t expect the summary to be so long…

When You’ve Had Enough

One of the best pieces of advice that my father has ever said to me is: ” People change when they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

I heard this being said to me for years and it would just go through one ear and out the other because I never knew what that felt like. People talk about rock bottom but I’ve hit it in the past and still continued doing the same things I was doing. I now know what he’s talking about. After getting my heartbroken for the umpteenth time and realizing that my 21st birthday is quickly approaching yet I don’t have anyone in my mind that I would celebrate this day with, I knew I was sick and tired of feeling this way.

The way I had been living my life wasn’t working for me anymore. I took a step back and assessed the damage that I had caused. I had managed to all but alienate myself from friendships, terrified of socializing (as a consequence to the no friends situation), forgetting to take my vitamins therefore I was in poor health, and valued having a romantic relationship rather than my own family (or health for that matter). The only things I had to show for it were good grades but was it really worth? Sure, my alienation produced good things like the fact that I feel like I know myself better than most and I motivated myself to get the internship of a lifetime (plus the good grades aren’t that bad), but what I had managed to succeed in in my school and work life, I had completely failed in my social life.

When I realized that I was sitting at home again watching people on Facebook and Snapchat having a ton of fun on the weekend and I was sitting in my bed all day, I had had enough. I was going to change my life around and that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s been a slow process and every little step counts but I honestly feel better. I started taking vitamins regularly, have started caring about making meaningful friendships first (before looking into a relationship), and even though it’s another weekend where I’m home watching people have fun I know that I am closer now than I was last month to living the life I know I deserve. I deserve to have good friends and to have fun. I’ve worked hard enough and I’m sick and tired of feeling lonely when there are potential friends around me all the time. The new school year hasn’t started yet but I’m going to make it a goal to make new friends (and actually care about them). It’s going to be conscious at first but after awhile it will become natural (and hopefully I’ll get over my fear of rejection).

Nothing worth having is easy. Happiness is worth having and it may not come easily or as quickly as I’d like but I know it’s going to happen for me. It’s already started, now it’s time to ignite this spark!

Overcast Summer Days

I am very in tune with the weather. I am one of those people who’s mood is affected by the weather. The effects are never immediate but consistent days do take their course on me. Rainy days make me depressed, sunny days make me happy, cloudy days make me nostalgic; however, overcast days are the outlier in my equation.

There are two kinds of overcast, cold days and warm days. Now the cold ones are grouped together with the cloudy day category, but the hot days are their own unique day. They are rare days, I maybe experience them a handful of times a year but every time they occur they stand out in my mind. Today is an overcast hot day.

What experience during this time can only be described as surreal. My perception of time is warped to where I feel time has slowed down. It is currently 8 pm and I feel like I have lived through this hour multiple times today. Normally in the day you can tell what time it is without a clock but with overcast every hour is the same. Suddenly time loses it’s purpose and morning, afternoon, and late afternoon are lumped together. The only time you notice a change in your day is when night arrives cause at least you have some grasp of what time it is. Seeing a numerical value put to the time of day just puts into emphasis how time is a social construction. But playing along with the concept of time I would have to say that an overcast summer day feels like a 2pm on a Wednesday.

As for how it affects my personality, well I get bored. When I get bored I think, a lot and deeply. I do not hide the fact that I think into my relationships too much and I will overanalyze every element until every action has essentially lost meaning and I am forced to ask philosophical questions like: “What does a lack of eye contact mean?” The only thing that stops this from happening on a regular basis is the fact that I am too busy to think that deeply, I am constantly doing something to change my thoughts. But with boredom added into the equation (and the occasional procrastination stress) i create the perfect atmosphere for me to psycho-analyze every minute detail with every interaction I’ve ever had with someone to try to see if I missed any red flags.

Now to some this may seem like insanity and I guess it is a little crazy but this is how I operate. I have always been this way. I hone in on people’s personalities because I figure if I can know their every mood then I can predict their wills and desires before it’s even said. I know this is possible but it’s something that takes time and a lot of quality time together, but I’m in impatient and essentially try to fit in 5 years worth of knowledge in 5 weeks. I never do learn. I do view this as a weakness and knowing my own weaknesses and anxieties does help me from messing with my life. I can prevent myself from doing stupid things by recognizing when I’m overthinking something. My rule is if I want to ask a “risky” question (one that may change my dynamic with someone) then I wait three days to ask it. If after three days it’s still on my mind and I haven’t a clue what the answer is then I ask it, but if I’m not thinking about the question well then it was just an anxiety and I saved myself possible grief.

I do admit that I have anxiety (especially relationship anxiety) and it’s just something I live with and try to cope with in the hopes that they will subside one day. Some of them have lessened over time so I know it’s working. But I digress. Now you know why I hate overcast hot days, time is warped and I get bored. Sounds simple enough but I’ve always learned that nothing is as it seems.

New Series coming this June 2016

Been a long time but yes, I am still alive. And no, my grammar has not improved much. This summer I want to try something to keep busy and focused.

Presenting: A series on what it’s like being a queer person living on their own for the first time!

Well technically I’ve been on my own for the whole school year, but this time it’s for the summer so I’m assuming it’s going to be different. If not then I’ll blog about how life is no different in the summer and how music lies to you about that idea. But this will be great! There’s gonna be heartbreak, adventures, food, how to be queer advice, the gradual decline of my sanity as I try to survive summer school, philosophical thoughts, questions with no answers, emotions, etc. You get the picture.

This will focus heavily on lesbianism so if that isn’t your thing then skim over those parts cause what I have to say is still relevant to everyone. If that is your thing then hey! welcome to the club. A lot of these things I’ve been having to figure out on my own cause my situations are never exactly perfect. I make negotiations and compromises that get me into trouble and then I need to dig myself out of the hole; so, if I can help at least one person who is similar to me then I’ll consider this a win!

I will try to update every one or two weeks. Posts will begin the first week of June. Until then…Ciao!