Forgive Yourself

It can be somewhat easier to forgive others before we forgive ourselves. Why is that? Don’t we owe it to ourselves to forgive ourselves? Let us dive deeper into this topic. Yes, I have a story to tell. 😂

My last job I was as an Academic Advisor for a college. One thing that I loved about the job was watching students finishing their degrees and feel confident that they can reach any goal they set. The thing that I disliked about the job was the politics. I felt the school only cared about having students packed in the classrooms instead of making sure students were ready for their careers. There was a time where we had a student that was suffering from a mental delay and could not focus on passing the two classes she was taking. She failed two semesters, and my manager, the Dean of Students Services, wanted me to place her in another major so we can hit our registration number. I had to fight my whole team for them to understand that this student was not going to be successful in a college that cannot meet her needs.

When I left, well, when my manager got mad because I placed my two weeks’ notice in and she made me leave that same day, I felt so bad. I thought I was letting the students down who came to me for advice and a shoulder to lean on. I also thought that I was letting my husband down because I took a major pay cut. I went to my new job, regretting my decision to leave. I thought that I was selfish, and I did not deserve to be happy.  I went to therapy two weeks after leaving my job, and I cried,  “I made a big mistake.” “How so?” My therapist asked. “Because I not only let my students down, I let my husband down.”  My therapist looked at me and gave me a kind smile. “Were you happy there?” She asked.

I started thinking about the things that I did not care for while I was there. “Not at all.” I said. “Sounds to me like you left to save yourself from being miserable.” She explained. She was right. Had I stayed, I would have been depressed and possibly had a mental breakdown from the stress. “You did not let anyone down,” my therapist said, “You freed yourself from being hurt.” Then she said, “Forgive yourself, Ariel.” After that session I went home, I looked at myself in the mirror, and I told myself that I forgive me.

I said all of that to say this; we need to be kinder to ourselves. We should not beat ourselves up because of what others think about our decisions. We have to do what is right for us because we are the only ones that will know what fits us. Self-love is forgiving yourself for things you have done, or you think you did to yourself. Forgiveness is the first step in taking the baggage off of you. If you want to be free of the cloudiness that is around you, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you forgive you. Trust me; you will feel much better.

Anxiety Woes

I saw a journal prompt that I would like to share. The prompt asks, What is one way your depression or anxiety has held you back this week? I want to tell you how my anxiety treated me this week, and hopefully, this can help others dealing with their depression or anxiety during this pandemic.

Monday, I wanted to go to the store and pick up some things for my husband and me. As I was going to the store, my stomach was doing flips. I went into the store, trying to gather myself. I went down every aisle I needed to go on and quickly went to the register. I thought I was home free. “You can make it, Ariel,” I said to myself. Then it dawns on me, “I forgot the chips!” I yelled out loud. I did not want to go back into the store I left out of, so I went to a small convenience store. I went in, got the chips my husband wanted, and ran back to the car. My stomach is doing the Salsa at this point. It was taking every fiber in my body not to make the mistake of throwing up on myself. I did that before, and it was not pretty. I pull into the driveway, thinking that I am in the clear, but as soon as I started taking bags out of the car, I had to throw them back into the car and throw up all over the grass. It took me about 10 minutes to gather myself and continue to unload the car. I did not leave out the house for the rest of this week. Anxiety has a funny way of trying to “help” you out. 

Although anxiety may have you feeling physically sick, we have to find ways to fight back. If it means to take baby steps until you can regain yourself, do that. Anxiety’s job is to make us afraid of the world around us, and since this pandemic has changed our world, anxiety is working overtime. Find peace and know that what we are facing right now will not become the norm. Pace yourself, love yourself, and above all, listen to yourself. We can make it!

Sorry Not Sorry

You are walking in the store shopping. As you go on to the next aisle, you noticed that you and another customer are dancing with each other. “I’m sorry.” You said as you move out of the customer’s way. Now it is fine to say sorry when you are in someone’s way, but why do we say sorry for being ourselves? We want to be liked by people, and there is nothing wrong with that, but everyone will not like us. For every 100 people that say that they like you, there will be 1 that will find something wrong with you. Here is a story about figuring out why saying sorry is not needed all the time.

I have been told that I have a tone that can be read as “unfriendly.” Every time that I would say something at work, someone would get offended and say that I was rude. I would instantly say that I was sorry. The last thing I wanted to be was rude and unfriendly to people. I would try to change my voice and slow down my speech; nothing worked for them. “Ariel, you have to change how you speak to people,” My manager said. “Say it with a smile on your face.” I asked myself how can I make them see me as anything but unfriendly?

I started smiling, still was not friendly enough. My manager brought me back into her office. “Ariel, I am still getting emails from other employees about your tone.” My manager said as she shook her head. I could not handle it anymore. “What do you want me to do?” I asked my manager. “I am not going to say sorry because they cannot deal with my tone.” “Ariel, you have to try.” She said. “I did, and it is not working,” I cried, “I cannot help it if my tone makes them feel uncomfortable.” That was the first time I did not say sorry. I could not keep beating myself up for something that I was not doing. I was not rude or unfriendly; they just wanted me to do what they wanted me to do. I had to remind myself that I am at work to be productive, not to be the popular girl.

Is it going to be easy breaking out of the habit of saying sorry when you did nothing wrong? No, but we have to remember that we are not on this Earth to please people. We cannot control people’s feelings; we can only control our own. You do not have to apologize for being you. You do not have to apologize for making moves for yourself. Do what makes you happy, and as long as you are not doing something disrespectful to someone, keep the word sorry out of your mouth.

Daddy’s Girl Wannabe

My mom told me when I was young, like 2 or 3 years old, my dad and I were thick as thieves. The thing is, I cannot remember that time at all. Would I want to have a closer relationship with my dad? Yes, I do, but sadly I do not think that will happen. When my sister was born, I felt that she would be my dad’s favorite. Not because she would be smarter or would have a better personality, but because she came from a marriage. My dad will never admit that, but I know the truth. Everything was about his wife (his ex-wife now), her sons, and my sister. Around 13, I decided that I did not want to be around them because I felt left out. My dad was not happy about that, but he did not make me feel like I was wanted, so it was best not to be around.

Becoming an adult, he began to talk to me more, which was great, but I was his unofficial therapist. He would call me to vent about work, his ex-wife, and my sister that “won’t listen” to him. As soon as I say that my sister is too much, he would stop me and defend her. “But you said that she was doing too much.” I was said to him. “Your sister is going through a lot because of her mom and I breaking up,” my dad said, “You do not know what she is going through.” I had enough. I asked to meet with him so that I could address my feelings about our relationship. “Ariel, the only reason why we do not have a strong relationship is because you did not live with me like your sister.” He said, looking at me casually. “What does me not living with you have anything to do with having a relationship with me?” I yelled.

I was annoyed that he would even use that as an excuse. I wanted him to say he was sorry and that he would do better, but that did not happen. He dug his heels deeper into the sand. “You just do not get it, Ariel,” He said. “My relationship with your sister is the way that it is because we live together.” I stopped talking and left. All I wanted was to have the inside jokes, my sister and dad shared. I wanted to be able to brag as my sister does about being a daddy’s girl. I am his oldest; I should not feel like an outsider. I am smart, funny, and respectful. Is that not enough for you, daddy?

So today, I posted pictures of myself. I saw I had a comment from my dad, and with excitement, I went on Facebook to read it. He said I was beautiful, and I began to cry. That was all I ever wanted was for him to say I was beautiful publicly. I want him to shout to the world that I am his daughter, and I am beautiful. I want him to be proud of me. Daddy, please be proud of me.

I want every woman that has an estranged relationship with their father to understand this; it is not your fault that he is not showing you the love you need. You are beautiful and deserving of the respect you required. Do not think for a moment you are not golden. You are Golden!

Embracing Failure

Raise your hand if you like failing. No one. Okay. What if I told you that failing should be viewed in a positive light? Please do not click out of this post! Just listen to why I say that we should see failure as a good thing.

I read this article in Psychology Today by Dr. Art Markman called ‘People Don’t Share Their Failures Often Enough.’ In his article, he talks about a trial that was done with participants being asked to play a game. The game had three boxes, one box had a 1 penny loss, the second one had a 20-cent gain, and the third had an 80-cent gain. Each participant had two tries at choosing a box. On the first try, most of the participants received the 1 penny loss, then do their second try; they received the gain. The second part of this trial was for participants to share their experience with the game. What the researchers noticed was that the participants would only tell about their gain and not their loss. The funny thing is participants were given an incentive to help each other. However, they still would not share their loss.

So how does this apply to us? We tend to focus on what people will think when it comes to wins and losses. We rather look good in the eyes of other people instead of being true to ourselves and let people see when we fail. We also think that failing at something is to fail at life altogether. That is not true. We cannot have highs without going through some lows. We can look at many famous people from the past as well as the present that had no problem letting the public know how many tries they had to take before they became famous. So why can’t we do the same? Have you ever thought that by sharing your misses, you can help someone step out of their comfort zone? We need to understand that we all will have some failures, but it is how we bounce back that matters most. Do not beat up on yourself because of your failures, use it as a lesson, a blueprint if you will, to get you to the finish line. I know it can be easier said than done, but if we can work each day on taking our lost as an opportunity to grow, we will be better in the long run. Hold your head up high and keep trying until you reach the top. Your failure is only a stepping stone for something greater.


Until You Use Me Up

Have you ever given too much of yourself? I mean, you gave so much that it drained you mentally, emotionally, and physically? Well, welcome to the club! I used to think that the only way to show that I cared about someone was to give too much of myself. You may be wondering, if I do not give my all to a person, how will they know I care?

I have been in two major relationships before I dated and married my husband. The first one was puppy love. I met him when we were 18, and I just knew I was in love with him. Every time he would call, I would do everything in my power to answer. I was so focused on loving him; I did not notice he was taking advantage of me. One time we were sitting in his car, and he kept sighing. “What’s wrong, Babe?” I asked. “Man, I’m broke,” He said, holding his head. “I have no gas, but I wanted to see you.” I started thinking to myself that I had to help him, but I only had $40 to my name. Then I thought to myself, “But he came all this way to see you.”

“What do you need?” I said, taking his hand from his head. “I need like $20 bae.” He said, looking at me like a sad puppy. “Well, I have $20 I can give you,” I said, reaching into my bag to grab my wallet. “Naw, I cannot take money from you, baby.” He said. The look on his face, however, was saying something different. He was looking like, “Come on and show me the money.” “Here,” I said, holding out the money, “Take it, babe.” His eyes perked up, and he took the money from my hand so fast that it felt like a vacuum sucking up dust. “I’ll pay you back.” He said as he leaned over and kissed me on my cheek. Let’s just say that he still owes me $220.

My second one was emotionally draining. I thought he was the one, but every time something would come up in his life, I was the first person he would get rid of. I had to fight to keep him around. “Stop calling my phone Ariel,” He shouted. “I told you when I am ready to talk to you; I will!” “Why won’t you talk to me,” I cried. “I want to help you; I love you.” My phone beeped to let me know he ended the call. I would cry myself to sleep because I wanted him to let me in. He went as far as blocking my number and blocking me on social media. When he was ready to be bothered with me… I mean ready to be loved by me, he would unblock me and asked me to forgive him. It took me a while, but I decided to let him go. He was very upset about that.

I told these stories to make this point; if you are giving more than you are receiving, it is safe to say it is not a relationship you need. We cannot continue to fill everyone’s cup while you sit around being thirsty. Again, how do you care about someone without emptying yourself? You set parameters in your relationships. You let them know what you will and will not do. A relationship is all about give and take. If you are giving more than you are receiving, you are cheating yourself out of the love and respect that you deserve. Also, do not let anyone make you feel bad for saying no. That is your right to say no. You have to know when enough is enough. You can love someone without draining your pitcher, and if they do not like it, so be it.

Is It the Devil Or Is It an Illness? How the Black Community Handles Mental Illness

“Just pray about it,” This is what most black people hear when it comes to mental health. “God will take it all away.” Do not get me wrong; I am a Christian, but just like you cannot pray away Diabetes, you cannot pray away mental illness. Why is it that black people feel that having a mental illness is something that cannot coexist with our faith in God? Someone once told me that my mental illness is the attack of The Enemy. The Enemy? Again, I believe in God, but I also believe that God will give us things that he feels like we can carry.

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul speaks about a weakness that he has. He continues to say that he asked for God to take away that weakness, but God would not. Paul said that God told him that he could be strong with that weakness. Paul, in verse 10, realizes that embracing his weakness will make him strong. I guess this may be something that Church folks omit. God even challenged Job if you rather use the Old Testament instead of the new. We must stop making our weaknesses something that the Devil placed on us and know that God gave us the power to handle it. Do not let anyone make you feel like your mental illness is an evil spirit. It is okay to pray to God to give you wisdom and direction, just like it is okay to go to therapy and take medicine to manage your mental health.

Black people, we have to understand that mental illness is not going to go away. If you continue to sweep it under the pile of dust will become bigger. We are seeing our people suffer on the streets, and instead of helping someone get help, you turn our heads and say the Devil got in them. Please family, I am begging you, stop taking mental illness as a curse and start looking at it like you do Cancer or Heart Disease. We can only get better if we are feeling to take the blinders off and face the truth.


Dealing With Bipolar

Dealing with a mental illness like Bipolar Disorder is like flipping a coin, you never know what you will land on until the coin hits the ground. One week you are on cloud nine talking a 100 miles per second, and the next week you do not want to get out of the bed to take a shower. It has been about 6 months since I found out that I have Bipolar Disorder. Here is my story.

“Justin, I do not know what is wrong with me,” I cried to my Psych Nurse. “I have had these weird mood changes.” Justin looked at me with concern in his eyes. See, we thought that my agitation was coming from my anxiety, but from the look he was giving me, I could tell it was much deeper than that. “Well, tell me about them, Ariel,” Said Justin.

I began to tell him about a time that I was watching a video on Facebook that was something political. I stood in the middle of the living room, ranting for about an hour while my husband Donta set back with surprise. I did not even know how long it had been until Donta told me. I told him that it was important and that he needed to listen to it. I yelled, “Our freedom is not something we can sweep under the rug.” So, my husband, being the supportive man he is, continue to listen until I tired myself out. This was not even the first time I have held my husband captive by my many rant sessions. Then I told Justin of a time where Donta and I disagreed about something little. When Donta said to me that he did not want to fuss about something so minor, I ran to our room and cried for three hours. It was nothing I could do to stop it. Even when Donta came into the room to hug me and tell me everything will be fine, I still kept crying. That crying spell lasts for a week. I was like a weeklong rainstorm; nothing could get my tears to dry up.

“Well, I know what the problem is,” Justin said reassuringly. “You are Bipolar.” “Bipolar?” I questioned Justin as if he was not the one with years of experience in treating mental illness. “I am so damaged.” “No, you aren’t,” Said Justin. “Your mind just handles things differently from others.” After we talked about the medicine that I would be taking, I walked out of his office with a little clarity. I was afraid, but I knew that I would be okay if I kept myself knowledgeable about my disorder and set my appointments with my Therapist.

If you feel like your world is spinning out of control, do not deal with it alone. Seek help from someone that can provide you with the tools and treatment to get you on track to handling your mental health. Do not think because you have a mental illness that you are broken; you are not. You are strong and built to handle your mental illness. Keep your head up and continue to live in the moment.


Facts Over Feelings

My session this week in therapy started like this. “I cannot do this anymore! I want to be away from anyone and anything!” The reason why I said this comment to my therapist was that I had an incident during a work Zoom meeting.

Here’s the story: We have been working from home for six weeks. Each Tuesday, we have a group meeting to discuss how we were handling working from home and how our clients are doing. I have been so anxious since we started these meetings, so it is safe to say I am over this conversation. As my co-workers were going around saying positive words and tips, they are giving their clients, I set with this look of agitation. Yes, I forgot that people could see my face. I did not care. I am at the point of screaming. So, after an awkward exchanged I had with one of my co-workers about how children can in fact sit longer than 5 minutes, it was time to wrap up our meeting. One of the managers asked this question that really got under my skin. The question was, “what is one word could use to describe what kind of support you need right now?” Why this question? Can you actually support me? With the mess I have going on in my head, you really think you can SUPPORT ME? Everyone went around stating their word that would describe the support they need, as I sat there with the same look of agitation.

When my manager asked me about my word, I said, “I do not have a word.” Everyone began to look at the camera like I was on trial. My manager softly asked, “There is nothing we can do to support you, Ari?” “No,” I said with remorse. Now I feel like a B-word. I feel worse now, because everyone is probably wondering what is wrong with me, and why I am so dismissive. When the video called ended, I closed my laptop down and began to weep. “Ariel, why would you say that?” “Everyone was looking at you.” But it was too late to think about that; the damage was done.

When I told my therapist the story, she asked me a question that I would never think of asking myself. She asked, “With all the things that you mention in this song, what were facts and what was just your feelings?’ I instantly drew a blank. “Did you answer the question?” My therapist asked. “Yes,” I said, wiping tears off my face. “Well, that is a fact.” She said smiling at me. “You cannot let your feelings get in the way of the facts, Ariel.” She is right. I could dwell on how my co-workers were looking at me or worry about them talking about me to each other, but what is the fact? I do not know if anyone will have something to say about me, but what I do know is that I answered the question in the best way I could do.

We all have been in a situation where we focus on what others could be feeling about us. We lose sight of what is going on at that moment. We cannot control anyone’s feelings, but we can control how we manage our emotions during a stressful situation. We should try to think about the facts before jumping into our feelings. With sticking to the facts, we know how to proceed on our journey through life.


Worst battle. What I know vs. What I feel.