Right beside me 

At 32 years old, I am working on not being scared of everything. We all have our fears. Some more rational than others. Most people are not controlled by these fears. However, as previously stated, my brain is not like other brains. This year I found out that I suffer from panic/anxiety attacks. Come to find out I’ve been suffering from them for years.  I always thought it was something else. I thought I would get motion sickness, fear of heights, my stomach was upset, etc. Then, I was flying alone with my daughter. I started to feel off and uneasy like I had felt so often before. She was sleeping in the seat next to me and I was just getting worse by the second. I looked over at her and remember asking myself what I was going to do. I was alone with my daughter and not well. It went from bad to worse instantly it seemed. No matter how I tried to control my brain, breathing, etc., I continued to spiral. I was dripping sweat like a faucet, my entire body was tingling, I couldn’t breathe, etc. I remember praying telling God to please let someone take care of my baby. I remember thinking about who was going to get her, when she woke up and I was dead next to her. I honestly believed this was it for me. This was how I would die and leave my daughter alone. It started from nothing. I’ve flown countless of times alone with my daughter. That’s how this goes. I’m aware of certain situations and things that will give me anxiety. I’m also aware that it can be nothing that gives me this anxiety. This isn’t anxiety that makes someone bite their nails and be hesistant. This is crippling anxiety that makes you feel physically ill. Have you ever had anxiety so bad that it makes you say a final prayer and black out? 32 years old and I’ve been suffering with anxiety as far back as I can remember. 32 years old and I just find out that I suffer from these anxiety/panic attacks? Wow, that was embarrassing. 

When I learned about panic/anxiety attacks, I tried to think back to the first time I could remember feeling this way. It took me a while. As mentioned previously, my memory is shot and takes some work to sort through. I traced it back to my grandparent’s house. I remember it was storming outside and my grandma had sent me upstairs to shower. I was afraid of storms, but I was even more afraid of my grandma. I went upstairs and let the shower run. I can feel it right now. My heart starting to race. My skin getting clammy. I sat still, because the floor squeaked and I didn’t want her to know I wasn’t in the shower. I remember being so scared that she would find out I didn’t shower. I made myself get in the shower. I cried as I told myself to just let the water wet my hair. As I tried to go back in time to find anxiety or fear, I remembered a lot of similar stories. I remembered every time I had a runny nose, I was so scared to sniff around my grandma that I would let it run into my mouth and down my face. I remembered gagging down food that I didn’t like. Literally gagging and convincing myself, “just one more bite.”  I was a little girl. How could I have been feeling like that? How could a little girl be so scared? How could I still be feeling like that now? 

I’ve always considered myself a pretty chill person. Turns out that I’ve been tightly wound this entire time.  I’ve been in knots for years. It was never “nothing” causing my attacks. I had been on edge my whole life. I never let that go. I knew that my grandma had messed me up. Sounds mean, but it’s the truth. I have a lot of scary and hurtful memories with my grandma. Years ago I chose to take all that and forgive her. She has been one of the biggest healing points for me in my life. She made me cry, fear, panic, and hide. She took the little self esteem I had then and threw it out. Little did I know that what she would give me in return would be invaluable and one of the greatest lessons of my life thus far. She taught me to truly accept people just the way they are. She taught me that I am capable of loving all, even if they have hurt or are different than me. She taught me to forgive. She was the first person I truly forgave. 

I like to believe that people do the best they can with what they have… most of the time. My grandma never left my side. To this day, she is right beside me. Through my mistakes and triumphs, she has stood beside me. As a baby and now as a 32 year old wife and mother, she has stood beside me. She has loved me. She has never turned her back on me. She has never stopped sending me cards on every holiday and birthday. She never stopped praying for me.  No matter how bad things got with me, she stood right beside me. I’m sure I’ve hurt her feelings too. I’m sure I’ve let her down too. She stood right beside me. She’s one of the most important people in my life. She plays such a huge role in the person that I am today.  I’m so lucky to still have her by my side. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a anxiety attack, since the one I had on the airplane. 

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Freak of nature 

I grew up with three brothers. I have two older brothers and a younger brother. Let me just tell you all, these guys are good at everything. I’m not just saying that, because they’re my brothers. Give them a couple tries at anything and I promise, they will be better than most. They’re fast learners and even more importantly they’re eager to learn. They’re incredibly smart and it just so happens that they’re also incredibly good looking. Ugh, I know. I hate them. You know what else they like to do? Be healthy and exercise. So annoying! Of course, we all have our flaws. My brothers and I all made our mistakes. Some bigger than others, but we all made them. Growing up we drove each other mad, but I always remember looking at them and being jealous. I was jealous of how easy it seemed to be for them. Jealous of how they could do everything. Jealous of their normalcy. I’m not talking about a spiteful jealousy. I was a chubby scared little girl watching my brothers be larger than life.  I’ve always admired so much about them. I wanted and heck, I still want to be like them. If there is anyone in this world that I want to be proud of me, it’s my mom and my brothers. Of course, I want to be proud of myself and I know my husband is proud of me. He married me, but to have my siblings and my mom be proud? That’s been my goal for years. 

I made bad decisions. I lied. I hid. I messed up. I hurt people. I didn’t have any regard for my life, much less for anything or anyone else. When I decided to come clean and get help, I knew I had a long road ahead of me. Not just with having to learn how to be sober and make good choices, but making amends with my family. I remember telling my family that I was sorry. I also told them that I knew it meant nothing. I didn’t want to say I was sorry anymore. I knew my words were cheap and abused.  I didn’t want to sit there and give them my reasons or excuses as to why I was a drug addict or did the things I did. I asked them to please watch me live my life. I wanted them to know my actions. All I could show them was that I was living an honest life and making good choices over and over. It was all I could ask for. It’s been years since I’ve told my family that and to this day, sometimes that’s what pushes me to be better. Them. 

I know people say not to compare yourself to others, but really what else do we do? I had three siblings. Of course I was going to compare myself to them.  I compared myself to my brothers, cousins, friends, randoms, etc., my whole life. Even now I feel like that’s what the adult life consists of for most. Keeping up with the Jones. Comparing what you have versus what your neighbor or that blogger has.  Comparing our body versus that body. Our child versus that child. We all do it. I do it daily, I’m sure. I just don’t do it to myself anymore. I know now, that I am a freak of nature. I will never be like anyone else. What works for everyone else, will probably not work for me. The way my brain works will never be the norm. I will never be part of the norm. That was a hard pill for me to swallow. Once I was able to accept that, I was able to stop comparing myself to others. Now I just compare my husband, my kid, etc. Oh wait, sounds like I’m pretty normal after all.  

This played such a big role on my journey to getting body and head right. I finally let go of everyone. I had to do this my way. I had to find my path. You know what I found out? I’m like my brothers. Those guys that I was jealous of? Yes, I’m like them. I can be with any of my brothers and feel like I am home. I wouldn’t say I like to exercise, but I like to be healthy. I wouldn’t say I’m smart, but I’m quick just like them. I’m not traditional, but neither are they. They’re larger than life to me and I’ll always see them that way. They’ve driven me in ways that they will never know. To go work out, to stay off dope, to be an honest person, to be myself. I’m forever grateful for the very best friends anyone could ever have. 

My Good Thing 

I never imagined I would be alive at 32 years old. I never imagined I would live outside of my early 20’s. It’s a sad way to think and live, but that was my reality. I didn’t have a fear that I was going to die or get killed. I had terrible secrets hidden inside me that had already taken my life. In my mind, I was already dead. 

I lived with those feelings in this dark dark place for years. I painted this picture on the outside of a fun loving funny girl, but secretly I felt incredibly lonely and battered to hell. I had this deep pain that nothing could comfort. That wasn’t the only thing I was hiding. I was also a drug addict. 

I can recall a couple times that I tried to end my pain. I took more and more and begged for it to end. When I would wake up, it wasn’t a sense of relief. It was sadness. I “lived” like this for years. I was dying in front of everyone’s eyes and they had no idea. I’m not sure what happened, but suddenly I was just done. I couldn’t anymore. 

I was clean for a little while and thought, “hey, I’m clean. I’m alright now.” Uh no. That’s not how it works. I still did not know how to cope. I still had horrifying memories and secrets. I also had been doing drugs and living this way for most of my life. I didn’t know any other way to live and cope. I didn’t know how to make peace. I didn’t know how to stop making mistakes. I entered rehab voluntarily and sober in 2011, at the age of 26.  

Is everyone ready for it? Alright ladies and gents, here we go! I remember walking into the room without expectations or a clue about anything. I walked in and saw all these people that were just like me and yet I was terrified. I looked around and there on the couch sat a tall, handsome drink of water. His name was James. I took a seat and that was the end of life as I knew it. Don’t tell James this, but within minutes of meeting him, out of nowhere, my head told me I could marry this man. I want to add that I was the type of girl that never wanted to get married and men were nothing but disposable fun. I was never looking for anyone and I most definitely wasn’t looking to fall in love and get married. Ever. 

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. James and I continued to be friends throughout the process. We would go on walks, talk, deal with anxiety attacks, be silent, cry, etc. We were friends and we fell in love. Love I never knew exsisted. Love I never knew I deserved. Love I never knew I wanted. The kind of love that gives songs meaning. Hard, soul consuming, make you want to throw up kind of love.

I married James, after knowing him for less than a year. We walked down to the courthouse in Oklahoma wearing David Hasselhoff t-shirts and jeans and said, “I do.” There was never reservation or anxiety. I had never been more at peace with anything in my life.

I truly believe that every ounce of pain, sadness, guilt, etc., had led me straight to this very moment. I believe that I was right where I was supposed to be. I believe that I had to go through all this, in order to get to him. I believe that James is my good thing, my unicorn, the climax (interesting choice of word) in my book, my gift, my sign from God, my one big moment. I believe that if the only thing I ever do in this life is show our daughter this great love, it will be enough for me.

I’m not magically fixed. I still suffer from depression and anxiety. I still seek help in more ways than one. I still have my crap, but I am different. I’m clean. I’m hopeful. I cope. I love. I learn. I share my old secrets. I live. I’m ALIVE and I get to figure this whole life thing out with James holding my hand. I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you God for letting me live.2011

Finding myself at 32

I was around 10 years old and at my brother’s basketball game. I remember being at the very top bleacher. I also remember thinking to myself, “blend in and act like everyone else,” before we all arrived at the gym. So there everyone was cheering, watching the game, acting normal, when the moment that accurately describes me happened. I fell off the top bleacher. Yes, in the middle of an ongoing basketball. Do you know what the sound of chubby 10 year old hitting the gym floor sounds like? The ENTIRE (yes, including the players and referees) gym stopped and looked at me. For those wondering, I was fine. Perhaps it was because I was chubby that I was left undamaged… physically. I still get some anxiety on bleachers. Haha

I’ve always thought of myself to be shy. When I was a young girl, I remember being scared of people and things. I also had three brothers, a busy mom, and a grandma that was pretty rough around the edges that helped take care of us. My first memory is of my father getting mad at me and then never seeing him again.  So most of the times I found myself doing things I didn’t want to do, saying things I didn’t want to say, eating things I didn’t want to eat, etc., because I was too scared to say or do otherwise. I’ve always told myself to blend in, act like everyone else, act normal, don’t attract attention, etc. I’ve continued to tell myself that into my 30’s, until recently that changed for me. 

Recently we attended a birthday party for my friend’s 3 year old daughter. They had great live music, incredible food, family and friends had filled the home, and a piñata. We watched and sang as the kids took turns swinging at the piñata. After all the kids took their swings, a full piñata hung. So adults turns right? “Just blend in, Gabi.  Act like everyone else. Look what the other moms are doing. Play it cool, Gabi,” says my head. It was too late. I was already sprinting to get the stick to hit the piñata. It had rained and was a little misty that night. Well it’s Houston and still warm outside (yes, in January outside in the rain.) So I thought it was a good idea to wear sandals. You all know where I’m going with this. I’ve attached pictures so you get a full effect. Before I started swinging, “blend in me” was acting like Babe Ruth. Circling my bar with my fierce batting stance. Then, it was game time. I swung like I was at the World Series. I felt  everything that moment. Both of my feet lifted off of the ground. I felt my feet moving forward and up. I mean, I caught good solid air. I remember feeling my shirt fly up and my belly jiggle. Bam, I hit the ground. What part of blend in didn’t I understand? 

My whole life I’ve thought I was this shy girl. However, moments like falling off the bleachers and the piñata fall have followed me my entire life. I’m definitely scared of things and people, but I’m most definitely not shy. I’ve told myself to blend in my whole life. I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in. I knew that I was different, but I was scared. Scared to be myself, scared to talk, scared to be left, scared to be unliked, scared of everything. 

That night after a lot of laughter with my husband (who took the pictures and stayed married to me), everything hit me.  I’ve been telling myself to blend in and act like everyone else for decades. Not anymore. I needed to stop lying to myself. 

I’m not scared of being myself anymore. I no longer care if I blend in. I’m not scared  to tell the truth about myself anymore. I’m not scared that people will know I’m not like them. No offense, but I don’t care what anyone thinks about me anymore. I can have an unpopular opinions, fall off bleachers, make bad decisions, get stuck in trees,  babe Ruth the piñata, etc., and it’s me. This is me y’all. I’m a mess. I feel like I’m forever working on my shit. I attract unwanted attention. I’m no longer trying to blend in and I can’t tell you how liberating that is for me.