life

What it means to me to be a woman & how you can give back

I love women and being a woman.

Understanding feminism and what it means to be a woman has significantly altered and progressed throughout my life.

I started as a young girl in a world where it was “unattractive” to be a feminist – it was something men didn’t like in a woman and therefore something I didn’t want to be.

I started as a passive young girl who always followed the rules of men in her life and let their opinions be her defining source of self worth. A world where “Mean Girls” was the anthem – take down the girl who is different than you, especially if it gets you the guy.

This isn’t an attack on men. This is reflecting on the social stereotypes that have filled my child to adult hood. It took years upon years to grow the courage to turn my back against the people who I endlessly loved because their worth in women reflected in their painful disrespect towards me. Years, to break free from a mold where those actions became a reflection of my own personal self worth. It took me jumping into the world on my own and becoming independent to realize what I was worth, what women as a whole are worth, and what it truly means to be a woman – an equal member of society. It took a lot of self reflection, exploration, and understanding to realize what being a woman in America means. So all I can say to you is break free from your mold, explore, gain experiences and learn about new cultures to find what it means to you to be the woman that you are. Educate – you may not be able to change those who can’t understand, but your voice will be heard. And don’t ever forget that women all over the world outside of our bubble are still being devalued, disrespected and dismembered. Being a woman is a much larger responsibility and much more powerful title than you could ever imagine.

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Find a way to give back to your community, woman to woman, and donate to projects like Direct Relief Women here: https://www.directrelief.org/participate/volunteer/direct-relief-women/

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i am not broken

I found home in myself.
And when I did that, nothing else mattered. My pains ached a little less. My walls deteriorated. My heart had seeded flowers.
I found home in myself.
And when I did that, everything else mattered. My pains were not sadness and anger, they were growth. My vulnerability was a blessing. My heart did not fear blooming.

a.absi

Flourish

And maybe I’m not numb.
For the first time in my life
I am genuinely happy.

Not for an hour
Not for a day
Not even for a week…

But for months
And months
And months
Without any fall.

Those moments of darkness have died
Along with him
And I missed it.

That darkness was a close friend of mine.
The closest friend I had for years.

That part of me has died.

And now
I flourish.

a.absi

10/19

When someone starts to go out of their way to make your life easier (especially when your life is pretty complicated and exhausting) it does, in result, make your life much easier. But in exchange, it adds difficulty to theirs.

And I know, those who give should not expect in return.
And I know, those who go out of their way to help someone are doing it out of their own will.

But it must, at some point, become damaging to the person and/or the relationship as a whole.

And I know, that the taker can give back in return in other ways, but what if it doesn’t compare?
What if it isn’t enough?
What is it isn’t as often?

Is this what leads us to expectations and standards? And when they stops expending, is this what leads us to feel unloved and conclusively lead to downfall?

I Found Peace.

I found peace in the crisp Autumn air
in the birds chirping over there
in the sun melting into my skin
in the small tingle of the wind.

I found peace in your stare
in knowing that you were there
in your efflorescent laugh when it’s tangled with mine
in the way that your fingertips fall down my spine.

I found peace in you
like I found peace in mother nature
in everything that’s true.

That’s a gift that no one could have given to me
but you.

a.absi

See the original post at DeeperThanWordsBlog.wordpress.com

Journal Entry 4: Counting Days 

It has taken me 47 days to write this. Mostly two days of writing, many days in between of feeling nothing, other days crying, and a few feeling anxiety at the thought of finishing it, of putting myself through finishing it, of acknowledging my feelings, of sharing them. Sharing my life experiences is how I get through them; writing is how I reflect, learn, grow, move on – sharing it is how I come to peace with my experiences, bond, and reflect more. It is by far my favorite thing to do.

Therefore, I leave you with this disclaimer: This post may hit you hard. I have yet to post anywhere about this matter in my life for the past month and a half because I don’t want or need anyone’s sympathy, pity, attention… but as I said, my writing is my passion, my soul, my strength. And I hope that from my posts, you can feel and connect with something extraordinary.

Here’s the reality: my life is insanely eventful, and not always in a good way.

Reality #2 – Maybe I will never be a good blogger because of it.

Reality #3 – I’m sitting here explaining to you yet again that I am a bad blogger because of my dramatic life, like I have for every journal entry.

Reality #4 (the saddest reality of all) – My hectic life makes for good content. But this post, in particular, took me a lot of courage and anxiety attacks to get to you.

So, per usual, here goes nothing…

Why is it that we designate or expect so much from certain people just because of their titles in our life? “Mom”, “Dad”, “Aunt”, “Uncle”…

Why do we let them give us emotional/personal problems because of their lack of fulfillment within those roles?

Why do we typically look at them as that role and only that, rather than a human being going through whatever it is that they may be experiencing?

Why do we shun them for not being able to fulfill that role without considering their own problems?

I sat for countless hours and I flipped. And flipped and flipped. Two large 5 subject notebooks filled to the brims – 873 people’s names (and counting) scribbled along the lines. I had found my fathers notebooks buried in the bottom of the bookshelf in his room from his time in rehab (while in rehab from drugs/alcohol you go through the 12 steps). 873 people, 322 pages, one mans entire life spilled and separated into sections of analytical reconciliation. These were his deepest feelings, his fears, his anger, regrets. I was getting inside his head.

15 years.
It has been 15 years since my dad had gotten into a motorcycle accident and sat in a coma, soon to wake up with minor brain damage, but still able to once again live a high functioning life.
“Rhode Motorcycle & Bike,” he wrote, in one of his lists (in one of the steps, you write about the places & things you did, and the negative actions you took)…
“No helmet. No pads.”
“Accident,” he wrote…
“Lost house, job, fiance, money, relationships, hope, faith, God.”
“Another motorcycle,” he wrote…
“Made people worry about me.”

47 days.
It has been 47 days since my dad tossed his leg around his motorcycle for the first time in years and decided to take it for a spin.
47 days since that night when he pulled it into a bar parking lot to meet a friend.

47 days now that my dad has been in a coma.
47 days of tubes. Of nothingness. Of sleep. Of stability with no signs of change. Of sadness. Of confusion. Of numbness.

9 days I sat there next to him in the hospital wondering where he was. A body there but a soul wandering. Some days sitting there watching him I felt so alone. He wasn’t with me. Other days I could see his lids flickering, his fingers twitching and lips rumbling. I wanted to believe then that he was there with me, somehow.

I was always embarrassed of my father. Writing that sentence alone hurts my soul. I was embarrassed. Cheer competitions, graduations, even out to dinner – I was embarrassed to be with him, because I knew (the sum) of his past, his life, his mistakes. I knew about the drugs and the alcohol. I didn’t want to be in pictures with him or let him take pictures of me in fear he would post them online.
13 years since I’ve owned my own camera. 13 years with the ability to take my own pictures. 13 years of memories piled in boxes in my bedroom – none with my dad.

But since I’ve become a young adult, I started calling him 3 times a week and speaking to him for hours on end about life, about mine, about his, my relationships, his, his jobs (or lack-thereof), his substance abuse.
I called him when I was upset and I would cry.
I called him when I was in one of my depressive funks and he would make me laugh.
I called him when I needed help and he was always surprisingly there. When I was stranded at a gas station alone in the middle of a snow storm somewhere in Maryland. When I needed a car. When I needed a phone, even though the bill wasn’t always paid. The first time my ex and I broke up and I needed a flight home. The second time, too. When I called him crying and needed a flight to California.

He always wanted to give to me, even when he didn’t have much for himself.

It took me a long time to learn about and understand substance abuse.
It took me a long time to learn who my dad really was.
It took me a long time to grow the courage to look past the addict and see the human, to stop hurting when he fell back into it again, to stop trying to be his reason for change and to simply just enjoy him when I had him sober. For so long I wanted to be his reason to not pick up the bottle. I thought that maybe I could change him, but I couldn’t. No one could.

Rarely, even after my love for him grew, did I have the courage to admit that to anyone – that he was human, that I cared about him even though he couldn’t always care about me, that I wasn’t enough for him to change. It was my kept secret because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want the judgement or ridicule for caring so much about someone who could only care about me while they were sober – who could care more about his addictions than me. And I know that that’s not true; being an abuser is a mental illness, but that’s how it felt. The only way that I can understand it is by comparing it to depression – sometimes, when suffering from depression, one is horrifically sad for no reason at all, or for reasons that are no longer relevant to their daily life just because their brain is making them sad, telling them to be sad – so sad that they think that life isn’t worth living and that they should die. Imagine that? Wanting to die? Your brain is tricking you into thinking that your life should end, and for some, it does. When I think about addiction I think the same thing – your brain is tricking you into thinking you need that bottle, that puff.
My dad suffered from depression. He wanted to die multiple times and even tried to kill himself. Growing up he was bulimic and had severe insecurity issues and still did till this year.
I’m not making excuses for him. He chose to get on that bike and ride it to a bar. He chose to leave his last rehab (and countless ones before that).
Really, the point I’m trying to make is going back to what I was saying at the beginning of all of this… Do we ever really see the human, or just the title?

I suppose we see the title because we, as their children, are supposed to be that exception – us, the mini blobs of them that they chose to bring into this world. Keyword: chose.

But even then, still, I question it.
I’m not saying that any mistakes are okay just because someone might be going through something personally that they can’t get control of – but overall, in any relationship we have with someone in our life, all I can say is think about them, too. Think about if it was you. And for those dealing with loved ones with addiction: that it’s okay.
It’s okay to give up, to not be strong enough to deal with their issues, to think about yourself and your feelings first.
It’s okay to bury your hurt and their issues just to keep a relationship with them when they’re sober.
It’s okay to hurt and then not hurt at all.
It’s okay to be too forgiving – you are not weak.
But it’s okay to not always stay strong.
It’s okay to hurt for them and still not be able to help.
It’s okay to still love and care even after they may have hurt you for the drugs and alcohol.
And that it has nothing to do with you – you are enough.
And being there at all can mean the world to someone in need, even if they aren’t showing you or you can’t give them what it is they’re needing.

Stay loving.
Stay compassionate.
It’s all okay.

-alex

Journal Entry 3: 30 Days in Cali…

I’ve been a bad blogger …again. I hope that every time I add to my Journal Entry chronicles, I am not self-confessing my lack of interaction. But yes, I’ve been a bad blogger again.

I’ve been scared. I feel like I’ve used that word a lot since I’ve started my journal entries – but this time around, I’ve been scared that I would jinx the happiness.

These past 30 days have been the best days of my life. 

I promised to myself at the end of 2016 that 2017 was going to be my year – my year to do what’s right for me – my year to be strong, to adventure, to make life happen for myself. I was worried that moving to Cali could actually result in me failing that. I was in a new place with one person to call my friend who had her own life to live. I worked from home, which isn’t the best way to make friends. I had no way to get around, not that I really knew where to go. The cost of living was haunting me. I was scared. I was scared of failure and loneliness.

But then it all so quickly started to fall into place and all that fear went away. And then I was scared to write. The words being printed indefinitely on paper made me feel like they would be left there as a closing and make it all come to an end. I would be jinxed. But before this I ran around the entire house knocking on every piece of wood in sight – so, here goes nothing…

They say that when things are meant to be, they work out in mysterious ways. A large part of me wants to believe that that’s true – that this move was meant to be, that everything happens for a reason, that secretly our inner being knows what’s right for us and gets us there, eventually.

This experience for me thus far has been a fairy-tale… And maybe, just maybe, it’s not a fairy-tale at all – maybe it’s just how life should be, I just haven’t lived like this yet …until now.

Since the immediate second I stepped foot into Santa Barbara I’ve been taken in by my loving cousin who would tear down bridges for me (…literally). She brought me into her world and made me a friend to everyone she knew. I was worried that, like being in a relationship somewhere new, I would then in result be living her life instead of one of my own – but oddly enough, I wasn’t.

I have new cousins who aren’t my cousins at all but have me over for family dinners, and don’t second guess my company when I crash their Sunday beer pong games (even without the OG cuz), whose kids run around calling my name to jump on the trampoline and take silly selfies with me. They add me to their group texts, invite me to movie nights and for glasses of wine and hunt down bagel bites with me at every Starbucks in town.

The same goes for every other friend of my cousins that I’ve been introduced to – I can now call them my own. Every day, without fail, someone is asking me to hang out. Fashion shows, bottle service and sparklers on my birthday, classy parties in giant houses in giant hills, photo-shoot’s, signing my first lease, consuming my body length in burritos, sun bathing on beaches with palm trees in them…

I took my first shot of tequila, drank more in the past 30 days than I have conclusively in my entire life, champed through an oyster shooter and even ate cow just for the sake of the In-N-Out experience.

The list goes on… I went into this experience very scared, overwhelmed, sad… I set my expectations very, very low and did some burying of the excitement I did have. I forced myself, instance after instance, to not get my hopes up.

So now I ask you – Is it really true, when they say what’s meant to be will be? Or is it that we (I) tend to aggressively overthink things into such intense mannerisms that we destroy all sense of hope and expectation until we take the risk, so that it has to end up being more amazing than we anticipated? Maybe knocking our expectations down (not aggressively, but you know what I mean) is what we need sometimes to be grateful and remind us that life and people really are amazing? (Not to get confused here – I mean, get out of your own inner fairy-tale of expectations – I don’t mean let people treat you like sh*t).

I’m not exactly sure what direction I’m going in with this post, because there’s so many different things I’ve learned in my 30 days of this new life so far – So I’ll give you the sum of it:

1. Life is what you make it. Plain and simple. 2. YOLO 3. Take the risk. ALWAYS. 4. It will all work out. 5. If you’re scared to do something that you really want to do, just do it. Chances are at the end of the day it will be one of the best decisions you have ever made. 6. Be kind. Smile wherever you go. Let things roll – it’s usually useless to get worked up. And don’t forget to make friends wherever you go. 7. There really are nice, inviting, friendly people out there – sometimes it just takes time to find them. Don’t let any selfishness and ignorance you’ve experienced with others bleed into your judgments of humans as a whole. 8. Even if it’s not what you want in the moment, force yourself to do what’s best for you (we all have that little gut monster telling us what’s right). You will look back, even in a weeks time, and thank yourself for it. 9. Always be genuinely you. No matter how weird or imperfect it is. If you are raw from the get-go, then your friends will be your friends – everyone will love and choose to have you around for the crazy human that you are, not who you think they want you to be. 10. Look at everything, and yourself, as a constant learning experience. Take it in – all of it.

30 days down, a lifetime to go.

xx,

Al

 

Journal Entry One: You Gave Me A Sense of Purpose

I have been using my second blog, Deeper Than Words, to post my creative writing; poems, short stories, lifestyle and journal entry posts. I figured that from now on I will put more of them here. After all, no blogger is just one specific genre behind a computer – they are human, and you should see the human side of me too. So, I’m going to post a series of journal entries – meaning, posts where I reflect on situations I find myself in in life; posts about those moments when I take a step back from the situation and think about it more as a whole. These posts can get pretty personal and sometimes very deep, but hey, that’s a part of being a writer. You can’t really be a good one unless you lay it all out there on the table. So, here it goes. Journal Entry One…

____________________________________________________________________________________

You gave me a sense of purpose.

You gave me a sense of purpose.

You gave me a sense of purpose.

The words continued to replay over and over in my head. “I… you know…” he stumbled, “It’s just when you were here you gave me a sense of purpose. I could have helped you. Or, well, I could have tried to. And now you’re not here and it’s just that I don’t have the incentive, the reminder, the bond with you that we have when you are around to remind me that I could have a purpose, that I could be good for something. It’s just hard. It’s hard.”

It hit me like one of those giant, unexpected waves I’ve almost drowned in on the shores of the Hamptons. The taller-than-you waves that curl over your body, that you might actually in reality expect but aren’t seriously prepared for even though you think there’s some way that you will indeed be able to handle its strength. I hated the waves. I hate the ocean but at the same time it’s my favorite thing. I’m afraid of it, and there aren’t many things that I am actually afraid of. It reminds me so much of this moment because this, too, this deep moment of honesty that had been stored for at a minimum of 4 years since I had been living away from my dad had been built up and then released over me. It hit me hard, and I tried to handle its strength but it brought me down anyway, and I was drowning in it.

I finally reached the top and felt the sun on my face. Gasping for air, I rubbed the salt out of my eyes, found my feet and buried them deep and hard into the sand below me and calmed myself. Sweet relief, sweet gratification, purity.

He knew it and I knew it too, that with the truth comes more truth. Before I could even speak he had filled in my words, “But I want you to live your life. That’s where you want to be and what you want to do and that’s what I want for you too, your happiness and to make your own choices.” I had my life to live and couldn’t change my destination or course to be what someone else needed rather than what I did. He understood me, and all at once I understood him too. I think I always did – I always knew this unspoken truth – it was just one that I wanted to stay under the water. I didn’t want to feel it, drowning me, yet it still did. And with the relief of it, I still felt the grains of salt burying themselves into my skin. They soon too will wash away, but I couldn’t help but think how unfair it was that they took me under in the first place. It hit me exactly how he didn’t want it to but needed it to all at the same time.

It felt unfair for him to throw that upon me. I am here and he is there and I wish every day for him to be better. I have tried with my kindest strength to be an incentive for his sobriety – calls every other day if not daily, understanding, loving tones, genuine love, kindness, motivating words. I thought that was enough but it never was and so I gave up.

Those moments, underneath, seeing glances of the sun shine through into the darkness as I searched my way to the top, the salt burning my eyes, are panic mode. Honesty is my favorite action yet the most unpredictable and breathtaking, for good and bad reasons of course, and instantly sweeps you off your feet and into panic. You see, that suffocating moment led me to a deeper understanding.

Maybe sometimes it is the healthiest decision to relieve yourself of your deepest feelings, but for others that relief can leave a burden. But then again, maybe sometimes that burden on us can be turned into less of a burden and more into a deeper understanding and perspective into that persons thoughts and your relationship with them. I’ve come to learn that the truth will, at one time or another, be revealed whether it’s from the person themselves or through some other revealing that might not be as pleasant – and that’s in a emotional and literal way. But regardless, the truth conquers all. Maintaining a healthy relationship is all about communication – honesty, perspective, understanding. All of these things my dad and I had together, and whether the truth did drown me for that moment or not, it was the gentle rawness of his feelings, the truth of it all, that I appreciated more than anything.

I think that’s something we all can (or more so need to) understand and appreciate – that sometimes the pain of drowning for a moment brings us the utter beauty and appreciation of the fresh air pulling deep into our lungs, and the sun shining on our skin.

 

P.S. – Yes, the header picture is me on the shore of the beach (known as ‘The End of the World’) in the Hamptons, NY. I was on vacation with my family there. We stayed in a tiny, old little hotel that legitimately rested on the ocean shore. The 6 of us would step out of our one bedroom shack at sunset and listen to the waves pouring onto our doorstep. It was magical. And yes, I almost drowned. True story (but then again, I can be a bit dramatic). XO

 

Kimchi Blue…

Dress: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: Zara

Sunnies: RayBan

It was an ongoing joke on the 4th of July to count and see how many people complimented this dress, and there were so many we couldn’t even keep track! It’s just so casually, effortlessly beautiful and elegant. I know I use the term effortless quite a lot, but if I could erase every other time I’ve used it and change the definition of it to this dress, I would. Though the front is very lowcut, thanks to my lack of packages it didn’t seem revealing. It’s very light, breezy and cool in the heat, but does shrink in the wash! I almost lost it when I struggled to button it around my ribs, but as the day went on it loosend back to its original fit. It’s a true beauty!