Category “love & relationships”

How Childhood Bullying Influenced How I Treat Others as an Adult

“For me, that strong back is grounded confidence and boundaries. The soft front is staying vulnerable and curious. The mark of a wild heart is living out these paradoxes in our lives and not giving into the either/or BS that reduces us. It’s showing up in our vulnerability and our courage, and, above all else, being both fierce and kind.” ~Brené Brown

Many people have experienced bullying in their lives and have possibly been a bully by association without realizing it at the time.

While the type of bullying may differ, the emotions are often the same. Bullying is …

How I Found My Worth in Spite of My Father’s Abandonment

“Because if I myself saw my worth, I wouldn’t base my worthiness on someone else’s seeing it.” ~Unknown

I can’t be sure which title I would have preferred. Daddy, Poppa, Pa, Dad. Aren’t these the endearing titles one earns when they live up to all that it means in the role of the first and most important man in a little girl’s life?

The one who she can count on for love, guidance, comfort, and safety. The one who she adores. The one who teaches her how to play soccer or baseball because she is a tomboy through and through. …

When You’re Terrified of Conflict: Why True Intimacy Means Speaking Up

“Conflict avoidance is not the hallmark of a good relationship. On the contrary, it is a symptom of serious problems and of poor communication.” ~Harriet B. Braiker

I walk on eggshells in my relationship. I have for the past ten years.

I try to design everything out of my mouth to lead to the least amount of friction between my wife and me. And you know what? It’s hurting our relationship.

You see, I’m afraid of confrontation. For me, confrontation leads to tension and tension can lead to stress and angst.

When I was a kid, tension, stress, and angst …

How to Give Someone the Gift of Hope and Joy with Just a Few Words

“You will never forget a person who came to you with a torch in the dark. ~M. Rose

You never know the impact you might have on someone at any given moment.

It may be entirely unknown to you.

While people often look “fine” on the surface and out in public, many aren’t.

In fact, there are some who spend most of their time sitting curled up in a ball, waiting for the darkness they feel to close in on them, to swallow them whole.

A simple look, smile, text, or “hello” in the grocery line could be the

How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed by Other People’s Strong Emotions

“It is not your responsibility to figure out what someone else is feeling and why. Let go of the illusion that ‘fixing’ their bad mood will make you feel better.” ~Sarah Crosby

Some years ago, I was talking to my husband on the phone. He sounded annoyed about something to do with his work, but I noticed an intense emotional reaction in myself. Immediately, my heart contracted and my stomach lurched. I could feel a runaway train of emotions activate within me.

My whole body was awash with nausea, and I felt so very uncomfortable. 

This was a familiar and …

Overcoming Codependency: Breaking the Cycle of Unhealthy Relationships

“A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.” ~Melody Beattie

From a young age, I felt insecure in my own skin. I was a highly sensitive child and, subsequently, struggled with low self-worth for most of my life.

Although I had many friends and a good family, I consistently looked for approval outside of myself. I grew up believing that the opinions of others were the only accurate representations of my core worth.

As a teenager, I witnessed the crumbling and eventual demise of …

Why Forgiveness Is the Ultimate Act of Self-Love and 3 Lessons That Might Help

“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” ~Marianne Williamson 

When you hear the word “forgiveness,” what do you feel?

Forgiveness used to make me feel uncomfortable. I would physically contract when I thought about forgiving someone who hurt me. I felt like forgiving meant letting them off the hook while I was the one paying for their hurtful words and actions.

I would play a scene in my head about what it would look like for someone to apologize and admit to their wrongs… and only then would I be ready and …

Why It Can Feel Lonely When You Stop Overgiving in Relationships

“After you give so much of yourself to people over the years, one day you wake up and realize that you need someone to give to you too.” ~Sylvester McNutt

One of the biggest surprises I found on my self-care journey was how lonely I started to feel in the process, especially when I started to set boundaries with toxic people. At first, this loneliness had me questioning myself. I thought there must be something wrong with me, because I thought I was supposed to feel good and strong instead of scared and lonely when I did “the right thing.”…

How I Gained Self-Confidence and Self-Love Through Nude Yoga

“Growth is uncomfortable; you have to embrace the discomfort if you want to expand.” ~Jonathan Majors

Click, the camera lens shutters as I stand barefoot in mud, waist deep in cold river water with lilies all around me, wearing nothing but a lace cloth draped across my body. I’ll never forget how nervous I was the first time I was professionally photographed nearly naked. Something greater than my fear had called me to do it.

When I was growing up, my father was determined for me to model or act. I went to several model castings and auditions and was

5 Painful Effects of Parentification Trauma and How I’ve Overcome Them

“Sometimes people wound us because they’re wounded and tell us we’re broken because that’s how they feel, but we don’t have to believe them.” ~Lori Deschene

I’ve always been proud of how I can handle life so well. I’m great at managing responsibilities and taking care of others, but I’m not so great at being aware of my own needs. It’s part of being a highly sensitive individual and growing up with parentification trauma.

Overcoming parentification can take years. If you’re like me, you might not even realize it’s something you experienced until you’re well into adulthood. More people should …

Riding the Wave of Rage: How Mindfulness Became My Lifesaver

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything—anger, anxiety, or possessions—we cannot be free.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

My anger has gotten the best of me more than I care to admit. I’ve smashed windows, broken chairs, had movie-worthy brawls on the beach, and said gut-wrenching stuff that has brought people I care about to tears.

I grew up when mental health was not taken seriously, nor was it even on my radar. I just took my wild nature to mean I was screwed up and hopeless. …

3 Lessons on Finding Love That I Learned When Looking for My Soulmate

“Your soulmate is not someone who completes you. No, a soulmate is someone who inspires you to complete yourself.” ~Bianca Sparacino

For years I was in what seemed like an endless search for my soulmate—someone who would understand me, love me unconditionally, and share my values and interests.

It felt like I needed someone in my life to feel happy, fulfilled, and whole.

I went on a handful of dates, but I got friend-zoned at times, rejected at others, and ended up with the wrong people the rest of the time.

What pained me the most was how I repeatedly …

How Following Our Instincts Now Can Protect Us from Pain Down the Line

“There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long, I feel this is right for me, I know that this is wrong. No teacher, preacher, parent, friend or wise man can decide what’s right for you. Just listen to the voice that speaks inside.” ~Shel Silverstein

Some time ago, a guy I knew suggested I go swimming with him and a friend of his. I accepted.

I didn’t know him well. Sometimes he would say hello and be warm, while other times he would ignore me. Since he was a longtime friend of a girl I knew, …

How I Stopped Feeling Exhausted by Other People’s Needs and Feelings

“An empath is a person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them. Empaths feel what another person is feeling at a deep emotional level.” ~Leah Campbell

When I learned the word empath about ten years ago, it felt like the most amazing relief. I thought to myself, yes, that’s me! Finally, an explanation as to why people exhausted me so much. A reason why I had the ability to read people in an instant and was always in the throes of helping, listening, or supporting other people’s crises.

But now I no longer believe that definition.…

Leaving an Abusive Relationship: What I’ve Learned and How I’ve Moved On

“Sometimes things have to go wrong before they can go right. Sometimes we have to let the wrong people walk out before we allow the right people to walk in. Sometimes we have to feel weak in order to know what it’s like to feel strong. Sometimes you have to be broken to realize you’ll never be shattered.” ~Unknown

Leaving is the hardest part—that’s what they say, right? I don’t know if I agree. It takes courage to get out, but the healing process can be brutal.

It’s an ongoing process that seeps into every aspect of my daily life. …

How I Stopped Feeling Like an Outsider by Being Honest with Myself

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ~Bernard M. Baruch

As a young boy, maybe in fourth or fifth grade, I came to the realization that I was an outsider.

I didn’t like playing video games after school, I played basketball while the other boys played soccer, and most of all, I didn’t like the unpleasant and sometimes bullying tone that had formed amongst my good friends.

One good friend in particular—let’s call him Theo—I considered to be my best friend.

For years, we celebrated birthdays, …

30 Reminders for Sensitive People Who Feel Drained, Ashamed, or Judged

“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate.”~Anthon St. Maarten

There are some words that get painfully etched into our memories as if with a red-hot poker. For me, growing up, those words were “you’re too sensitive.”

I often caught this phrase in the fumbling hands of my shame after someone chucked it at me with callousness and superiority as a means to justify their cruelty.

They may have said something vicious or condescending in private, or …

5 Ways to Heal from a Highly Critical, Controlling Parent

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~Louise Hay

When I was growing up, it felt like nothing was good enough for my dad. And all I longed for was his acceptance and love.

He had this temper that would blow up, and he’d blame me for how he felt. He would outright tell me his behavior was my fault. That if I’d behaved better, he wouldn’t have had an outburst.

When he told me I wasn’t enough or worthy, I believed him. I was constantly walking on eggshells …

How Boundaries Help You Stay True to Yourself (And Two Practices to Try Today)

“The more you value yourself, the healthier your boundaries are.” ~Lorraine Nilon

I want to talk about the direct correlation between boundaries and self-love. Because when we truly love ourselves and have a healthy self-worth and self-concept, setting boundaries becomes a natural extension of that.

Without boundaries, we either become walled off and protect ourselves from others, which creates a sense of deep isolation and loneliness, or we become enmeshed with others. We often find ourselves living on their side of the street, working overtime to manage, fix, caretake, or be needed by them, all while neglecting ourselves and our …

How It Got Better: My LGBTQ+ Journey from Shame to Pride

2003 was when the “gay devil” (as I referred to him at the time) made his first appearance inside my unprepared thirteen-year-old mind. On a trip to Mexico that year, he sat perched on my shoulder while my family and I were out to lunch at an outdoor taqueria. The girl at the table next to us had tan skin and brown-blond hair, and wore sunglasses and a spaghetti-strap black tank top.

My “gay devil” noticed her and made sure I did too. As the words “She’s hot” crash-landed from his taunting lips into my unsuspecting mind, I flinched—then …