To my daughter…

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I made a promise before you were born to never criticize your body, to never make you feel ashamed or try to change you. I promised to teach you to love your body and love others just as they are. I promised to be careful with my words and not speak badly about myself in front of you, I promised to be the best mom possible for you, fighting everyday the false beliefs that I still carry around. I constantly pray that your mind is never tormented by the expectations and ideals society has praised, but to live authentically and cherish your uniqueness. But now I see how much you teach me and how rewarding it is to be your mother. I love how you enjoy running around naked, with a sense of freedom and confidence, living in the present moment, without a care in the world. Your kind and loving words surprise me everyday. You tell me I’m perfect even when all I see are imperfections. You tell me you love my belly, when all I see are scars, stretch marks and loose skin. You snuggle and hug me around my stomach, begging me to tell you how it felt to have you growing inside of me. You tell me I’m beautiful and remind me how I wish I could see myself through your eyes

Recovery is not easy. You learn to live one day at a time, changing habits, transforming thoughts and beliefs. You keep trying, even if that means forgiving yourself each night and starting over every morning. I love you G, you came into this world not only live a beautiful life but to shed light, truth and courage on mine. I am beyond grateful..
                                  đź’›, mama

A Letter to the Heartbroken…

                                                  A LETTER TO THE HEARTBROKEN

Friend, we’ve all been through heartbreaks and loss. We’ve all had expectations that just fell through. We’ve all floated on the good for a while, but now it’s a different season and though our hearts may dwell in sadness, it won’t be like this forever. Maybe your heart is bruised by the loss of a relationship, a sickness, a business fallen, a dream ripped apart, watching a loved one in pain a situation that won’t change or an unwelcomed twist and change in your life. Whatever it may be, whatever you did or they did to you, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the consequences, the aftermath, for your heart breaking, but you are not alone.

I know your days may seem slow and agonizing, but it gets easier. I promise there will be better days ahead. Believe it or not, time is your friend. Give yourself permission to trust time, because time heals. There is no time limit on your feelings. Some days seem eternal and you can literally feel the emotional exhaustion through your body. Other days it’s easier to get by. Soon enough you will notice that feelings and memories fade. You won’t think about it so much and realize that it’s a matter of balance, of allowing those moments and feelings come in like waves, but moving on at the same time.

It’s good to be busy, to be distracted, to take your mind off the sadness, but it’s also necessary to stop and acknowledge what you are feeling. Don’t be afraid of it, you won’t get stuck there. You begin the process of healing when you give yourself permission to just feel. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t ignore your feelings, and don’t get comfortable feeling numb either. Think of yourself as a bottle being filled up with emotions. That bottle has a limit and eventually it will burst. So when you feel yourself reaching that point of fullness, of being overwhelmed, let it all out. Cry. It’s okay to cry, the body literally is telling you it needs to release. I find after a good cry, I feel so much better. I feel lighter. I have purged the burden inside of me.

Friend, don’t forget all the good things you have right now. From the smallest things to the bigger things. Allow yourself to live in the present. Don’t replay the past over and over and torment yourself on what you could have changed or what you should have done. Throw the shoulds out the window. It is what it is. Don’t overthink, don’t overanalyze.

Remember all those things that made you happy once? Do them. Don’t wait for others to make you happy. Buy yourself flowers, go to the movies, treat yourself to a good meal, and enjoy that glass of wine. Despite what you may be feeling, don’t shut others out. Say yes to those invitations, spend time with friends. You need a good laugh; you need that laugh till you cry and your stomach hurts type of laugh and goodness. Laughter heals. Also, try something new; don’t think about it too much. Just say yes, if you don’t like it, who cares? Try something else. Eventually you’ll find your groove and rediscover yourself.

Give yourself some TLC (tender loving care). Treat yourself as you would a small child. Value a good night’s sleep. Your body and mind need rest. You will feel rejuvenated and ready for a new day. Treat your body well; eat some greens and healthy foods. This totally changes your mood and energy. Eating pizza all day will just make you feel lazy and tired. Go out for a walk, literally stop and smell the roses! Just treat your body with love.

This heartbreak gives you the chance to be the bigger person and grow. Humility is strength. Many resort to anger and revenge. They don’t see that in the end they only poison themselves. Don’t be like them. Remember that what others say and do is a projection of their own reality. Nothing others do is because of you (Don Miguel Ruíz).

There is someone out there who is going through the same. Opening up and sharing brings people together. Don’t believe that nonsense that you have to act tough. People are drawn to authenticity. Bravery and strength aren’t shown in doing it all alone. Vulnerability is strength, being real is brave. If the load is too heavy, seek help. It takes courage to admit you need that shoulder to lean on, that hand to pull you up, the push to keep you going, that guidance to help you see better. Allow others to help you do the mending. What you’re going through it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

This is also a time to give others what you need. What you put out into the world you’ll see it unfold back to you. In the midst of caring for others you’ll open your eyes to the goodness and love that’s been around you all this time.

I know change is hard, but it’s also an opportunity for new beginnings. Each day is a new day to start over. Is there something you have always wanted to do? Someplace you’ve wanted to visit? Someone in your family you would like to spend more time with? An old friend you long to reconnect with? A class you’d like to join but always say “one day, one day”. The day is today, my friend.

Don’t close your heart. Don’t let your heart grow hard, for the hard hearts tend to hurt others. I promise that if you let your heart stay open, to be hopeful and say yes to new things, life will surprise you, and you’ll see that where you are now is so much better then where you longed to be.

I’m sorry to say, but you will be heartbroken again, my friend. Such is life. But remember that no matter how many times you are devastated, you have everything within you to get through it. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t fear what may happen in the future. Look back on all the times you’ve made it through. You’ll make it through again.

I encourage you to pray. Praying brings peace. There’s no perfect way to pray. I imagine God sitting right next to me, it’s like we’re just having normal conversation. I pour out my feelings and He responds with a thought that reassures me that He has control over everything and reminds me that he is God and I’m not. It’s time to let go of the need for control.

And friend, most importantly, forgive yourself. You are only human.

Suddenly one day, you will see the broken pieces mend back together. Something or someone unexpected will make your days shine bright and new again, and one day you’ll look back and not feel so hurt anymore. Your mind will think less and less over that heartbreak and you’ll realize that you are healing. You’ll be able to look back and say thank you, because “I’m in a better place”. You will smile and feel brand new. So make peace; give your thanks, because you learn from these experiences and heartbreaks.

 â€śBe thankful for every heartbreak, for they were planned. They come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. Their purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you to transform your life. And you do.” –unknown.

…And know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God Romans 8:28

To those who have helped me mend back together, Thank you a million times, over and over.

                       With love and courage,

Myths about Recovery

          Myth (noun): a commonly belief but false idea

Everyone struggles with something. Most of us wish to get better, be healthier, be stronger…we try to change and grow but we all have our own battles and weights to carry. Some are small, some are big, but at the end we are all vulnerable to our own set of destructive choices, bad habits, and negative thoughts.image3

At a young age, my battles with addictions started. I was stuck in a deep and narrow hole of bulimia and hooked on uppers. As much as I longed for recovery, my thoughts, fears and false beliefs kept me from seeking help and actually putting time and effort to get better.

I’ve never met anyone who loves being stuck in an addiction. People assume that it’s a simple choice to let go and change, but sadly it becomes a comfort zone. It was stuck in a love-hate relationship. I lived in constant fear of letting go what I was comfortable with, yet I hated being a prisoner to every urge. I stood on a limb unable to see or admit the danger and the damage being done.

And then I found out I was pregnant. I was 18 years old, just finishing high school, and my world was completely shifted. I was now responsible for someone else and I needed to drastically change my life. It was my opportunity to transform; yet it was one of the scariest and hardest moments in my life.

     Through my journey of recovery these are 5 myths I battled with:

Myth 1: “Recovery means 100% no relapse, no mishaps, no stumbles.”

I believed and would constantly say to myself that I would ALWAYS struggle with food and never overcome my eating disorder. I had this false belief that my recovery had to be flawless and perfect. If I couldn’t resist the urge to binge and purge at least for a few hours then what was the point of trying? I set myself the impossible goal of getting better overnight and if I failed it meant that I wasn’t strong or deserving enough to get healthy.

I had forgotten that I was just a human being. And that means that failures, mistakes and stumbles are inevitable. The struggle with perfectionism was my biggest enemy. It took away so much good in my life and forced me to focus solely on the bad. Feelings of “not good enough” suffocated me. Anger and sadness flooded my heart and mind and I felt worse as my battle continued. I’d beat myself up every time I failed. I was unforgiving. I was giving up on myself and would get furious for failing, dragging me deeper into my bad habits and behaviors. This continuous cycle was getting me nowhere.

What I needed the most was one of the hardest things I had to learn and practice. I needed to be compassionate and loving to myself. I had to learn to be a friend and speak kindly to myself, in order to truly get better. A lot of times we become our own worst critics saying the nastiest things to ourselves.

Have you ever had a friend who was going through a hard time? What would you say to them? Would you be as mean to them as you are to yourself?

I had to pay more attention to what I was feeding my mind. How does negative self talk help anyone? I had to question myself on a daily basis… Would you say that to someone you care for? I also had to accept that perfection was impossible to achieve and let go of the control it had over me. I had to give myself permission to fail, but no permission to sulk in my failures. I motivated myself to always try again, over and over no matter how many times. It was always about getting back up.

 Myth 2: “Recovery is something you have to do alone”

This is where shame played a huge role. What limited my recovery the most was the belief that I had to get better on my own. That meant hiding my struggles, depending only on myself and putting on a mask in front of the world. If I had a friend who was struggling to get better, I would proudly be there for him or her and help any way I could. But my cloud of shame prevented me from opening to others. Even with professional help, I was not always honest to my therapists and counselors. I wanted people to think I could do it on my own and didn’t need help.

I didn’t realize how much this affected my progress. Not only did I have the weight of the world trying to get healthy but also the weight of faking it to the world that I had it together.

The moment I took the chance to open up with people deserving to hear my story and share details about my life, I realized how silly my beliefs were to think that people would be so judgmental and reject me. These moments of vulnerability allowed me to build friendships, rely on others and realize that I wasn’t alone. I ended up receiving what I needed most: Accountability. I had people pushing me and rooting for me.

I learned that trying to get better alone was hurting me rather than helping me. In the moments when I failed, no one would know. I didn’t feel the need to commit to the process. But once I had accountability, I could grow and continue on my journey. It is amazing what the power of vulnerability, talking and sharing about our struggles with others, does for the soul. It facilitates the healing process and helps build genuine connections.

Myth 3: “You are a mother, you shouldn’t be dealing with these problems, and you should have it together. You should focus only on your daughter.”

The power of shoulds, comparing and feeling unworthy

This topic is delicate because there are so many standards as to what makes you a good enough mother. I became a mother without knowing how to be one and it was just time taught me and is still learning. I had to allow myself to not know it all, to ask for help, to accept that a perfect mother doesn’t exist and admit that I might be struggling with heavy loads, but it doesn’t make me undeserving or less of a mother.

How many “shoulds” do you have? I remember one of my therapists told me on our first session: “You need to leave the word should out of your vocabulary. You are not allowed to say it in therapy.” I realized how much that word had power over me.

You should be skinny

You should be a better mom

You should focus only on your daughter

You should do this, you should do that

The shoulds were endless.

I was so ashamed that I was a struggling mother. I was ashamed to be responsible for a little human, to raise her and help her grow, and had my own life all bent out of sorts. I would constantly compare myself to other parents and hide deeper inside my cloud of guilt and embarrassment. And there I would go again, talking badly to myself, spitting out how undeserving a mother I was and punishing myself for not being like other “better” moms.

I was so blinded by my assumptions of other parents that I didn’t see how much they struggled too. It didn’t need to separate us; on the contrary, it connected us.

I believe part of recovery entails being what may seem selfish in the eyes of others…doing what YOU need the most. That for me was saying goodbye to people, places, activities and things that triggered me and  were not a positive influence in my life. I strongly believe that in order to be the best mother for my daughter, I need to focus on myself first.

In the Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown quotes Justin Valentine about how many mothers love their children more than they love themselves; they feel unlovable and unworthy and that’s why drug addicted mothers struggle so much with recovery. Sometimes as parents we put ourselves last on the “to do” list and forget that we are more than just parents.

Reminder: Do what you need to do for YOU and stop comparing!

Myth 4: “Once I recover, everything will be fixed, I won’t struggle anymore, and my battles will be over”

The feeling of overcoming an addiction is amazing… but the reality is problems don’t go away, but you can get better at facing them!!!

When I would feel anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, I would resort to binging and purging. It became something so automatic that eventually I was in this cycle without even thinking or knowing what was going on or checking in regarding how I was feeling.

Getting better meant actually having to step back and ask myself …What is going on? Why am I feeling this way? I had to search different ways to deal with difficult moments and feelings. Whether it was calling a friend and venting, distracting myself with a hobby, exercising or praying, I had to put the time and effort to let go of the negative ways to deal with issues and replace it with something good.

There are still days when I really struggle, I may be recovered but I am not immune. Some days when I stand in front of the mirror my heart sinks thinking I don’t have the perfect body, or that I don’t have this or have that, comparing myself to others and my urge to hide grows and grows. However, I recognize now the beginning of this negative cycle and replace it with compassionate and loving words. It isn’t simple to train your mind to resort to the good, but it becomes easier as you practice on a daily basis. Soon enough you will begin to see things with a grateful heart and mind.

For those who doubt that recovery from an addiction is ever possible, let me tell you that IT IS! It is possible to enjoy life, to enjoy your body, to enjoy food. It is possible to refocus your mind. But it takes time and lots of hard work. You don’t have to live tormented by negative thoughts. You can feel good and be good to yourself. There are times when I just have to step back and tell myself: “You are being ridiculous!” and move on with the day.

Myth 5: “There is only one way to recover

and time matters”

I’ve been to therapy, I’ve gone to psychiatrists, I’ve been medicated, I’ve been to rehab, I’ve stayed in retreats, I’ve moved to a different country. I have done many things in order to recover and through trial and error I have found my way. My recovery was centered on strengthening my spiritual relationship with God. I took the time to really open my heart to God and in the process I was transformed and received hope and purpose for my life and my struggles. Having a child really gave me a chance to regain control of my life; it was my way, my opportunity to change. It took time, hard work, and lots of trust. Trust in the process, trust in myself and, above all, trust in God.

People would tell me “if you do this, then you will get better”, “if only you forgive, you will be healed”, “if you go here, everything will be fixed”, “if you don’t get better soon, you will be stuck forever”.

Whatever is dragging you down, whatever you are stuck in, it’s a matter of trying, pushing forward and allowing people to help and love you. Once you allow yourself to get better and be helped, you discover what’s good for you, and what helps you stay focused. And there is no such thing as a time limit.It’s your own journey. Don’t let anyone define it for you.

Everyday is a new day to start over. Everyday is a chance to be better. And it’s about the journey, not the destination or finish line, because everyday we are growing and evolving. We need to gather encouragement daily and be kind and compassionate to ourselves. You will learn so much about yourself: strengths and weaknesses, and endurance, perseverance, resilience. And you will learn to thrive and not just survive.

                            With love and courage,

My tattoo, my story…

                                      “Takes Dust to Polish”

 So this tattoo isn’t something I did out of the blue…. 5 years ago I made a promise to myself and that promise has finally been fulfilled. But let me tell you what is behind these words and how this promise started…

Takes dust to polish basically means that it takes hard work to get where you want to be! I heard it from a song by Jason Mraz, “Life is Wonderful”. I love this song because with so much simplicity he explains that life is wonderful and meaningful despite the twists and turns it takes. Life has good moments and bad ones, but that is what makes it special, allowing us to learn and grow from them.

But what makes this quote and tattoo even more special is the moment I would listen to this song. This song came out in 2006; I was living in Tujunga, California, a sophomore in high school, barely functioning…it was the year I was admitted into rehab for eating disorders. On my way to outpatient program I would listen to this song every morning. My mother would let me drive and listen to this song repeatedly. It must have driven her crazy! I don’t know why this song captivated me, but I remember thinking that my life was hell, and it was nowhere near wonderful! I hated going to the hospital. I doubted I would ever get better. I had no hope in my future. I thought I would slowly die in my dark world and no one would be able to rescue me.

This quotes represents overcoming many challenges and adversaries. Battling bulimia, a victim of sexual abuse as a child, depression, drugs, becoming a teen mom, betrayals, going through a failed marriage, a rough divorce, and the hardest thing, learning how to LOVE and ACCEPT my past and myself, and letting go of the SHAME.

 I had to learn that in order to get out of the dark spiral my life was in, I had to rescue myself, and that was allowing to unfold the deepest and darkest secrets, to unmask everything that was holding be back, the fears and the doubts, exploring my feelings, thoughts, and emotions and allowing myself to live authentically. A part of rescuing myself was letting go of all the control I so desperately longed to hold, and to give it up and learn to trust God and believe in his promises.

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.        Jeremiah 29:11

But one of my greatest and proudest achievements is to have finished school and become a professional, to give back and help others. When I first began studying psychology, I didn’t think I would learn and discover so much of myself through the process. It took 5 years of blood, sweat and tears and without fail, each semester I considered dropping out. I was on the verge of giving up, of letting it all go because I was scared and doubted myself constantly. I felt that the demands of school were too much, and on top of that I had to deal with the emotional exhaustion of a broken marriage and divorce. I had to juggle being a student and a single mom, sacrificing time with my daughter, dealing with sleepless nights and sickness, etc. Nevertheless God always had my back and there were people in my life who supported me unconditionally and prayed for me, people who uplifted me and allowed me to vent and break down, people who let me open up, expose my life and be vulnerable, and still stand by me and show me love.

It has been a hard journey and I am grateful and proud to have overcome many difficult circumstances and self-destructing habits, but I am still learning to give myself love and compassion and be more positive. I finally understand how important it is to invest in myself, giving love and acceptance to myself…because it has allowed me to give love, compassion and acceptance towards others too. It allowed me to connect and build strong relationships, restore old ones and become a better mother.

It takes dust to polish, it takes hard work to shine, it isn’t easy but I’ve seen how God uses the bad and turns it into good. To live a meaningful and purposeful life is to learn from the bad experiences, to grow and allow happiness and love to flow despite the circumstances.

 So I end my first post sharing my banner of healing, hope and recovery. A promise I made to myself: to turn my life around, to finish school, share my story and live authentically.

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                              With love and courage,