Perception is a Bitch

Jayel_0125

The way people perceive you will always be just that…the way that they perceive you. As I get older, I like to think that I’m becoming wiser, that the opinions others have formed about me don’t hold value, and that I am able to do it all. If only that were the case. When someone sees you, they view you from the outside looking in, they have no idea what it takes to be you on a daily basis. They see a glossy picture that they begin to create in their head of who you are, and at times we have a tendency to mirror that image–for various reasons. We want people to see us as having it all together, as being able to pull it off, and as picture perfect. The fact is that in that moment we’re given several options. We can continue to allow others to think that our life is as they see it, or we can begin to allow people to see us for who we really are.

Nowadays people are slowly becoming more authentic. Not that it wasn’t always there, but it’s something I think people struggle with; the truth. For both themselves and others. We all struggle with something, whether or not we choose to admit it. A few years ago people viewed my life as picture perfect, it was far from that, but yet I was trying my hardest to make it feel picture perfect. I had so much pressure coming from (none other than myself) to be in this magical relationship, to live a life others would dream of living, to smile at every possible thing I could, and yet, inside I was dying. My soul was unnourished, my heart was broken, and my story that I was portraying was no longer mine, it no longer belonged to me. It belonged to everyone else because they created it, and I allowed it to be my reality. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized I had a voice. That I was just as guilty as everyone else for allowing them to paint a picture of me, that in fact, didn’t resemble me at all. I realized that although my voice may have been muted for awhile, it still existed. It may not have been the loudest in the room, but it was mine. It didn’t always make sense, and it wasn’t always pretty, but it was still mine. Learning I had a voice, was me also learning that at any given moment, I had the ability to rewrite my own story, and thats when I began to be authentic. I didn’t care if people were listening, but it was something I needed to speak into life on my own.

For as long as I can remember I always held my feelings in, I didn’t know how to express them. I always kept quiet about the things that really bothered me, but that changed. It wasn’t until my world got turned upside down that I realized it was OK to discuss my feelings, both positive and negative.

At first it’s scary. You believe that you’re  supposed to be someone that has their shit together. For me, as a fitness professional, I felt I had to always be on, and I thought that allowing people to see that I wasn’t showed vulnerability, and that was something I didn’t like. It was a feeling that I wasn’t fully comfortable with. Hell, I still struggle with it. I thought about how sharing my weaknesses would discredit me, how opening up would leave room for someone, or something else to hurt me. I thought that people wouldn’t take me seriously, and would allow me to be less than. Yet I knew that I couldn’t live a lie forever.

People aren’t dumb. They know (at some point) when you’re faking it. When you’re pretending, when you’re no longer being your true self. I was the one to call myself out on my own bullshit, and I thank God I did. Authenticity is something you can’t fake, and as it turns out- people don’t want to connect to someone that they don’t view as real. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be one way or the other, when in reality we have to learn how to just be – whatever that may mean, and begin to not allow others to define us, because at the end of the day what will really happen if we don’t meet those preset expectations? Nothing.

Disclaimer; This is something that I must work on consistently, and be reminded of on a daily basis. This is not easy.

By being you and being the authentic you, you begin to create a better relationship with others, but more importantly yourself.

Less perfection, more authenticity.

You Can’t Always Play the Victim

1534358_10101961477076102_4510920190203754879_nI write when I have something on my heart, something I need to get off of my chest, and something that I need to become one with.

Blogging has become a form of therapy for me. It allows me to unleash my feelings, good, bad, ugly, unwarranted, misconstrued…all of it.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts you can probably tell by now that I’m the type of person that cares what others think of me. It’s something I’m working on but also something that exists in the here and now. I’m sure I’ll get a few side eye’s from this post, or unwelcome feedback, and that’s alright, because writing MY feelings and MY stories allow me to be honest, and genuine, while allowing the overall experience to be humbling.

This particular post took some balls. I’ve edited, re-edited, selected all, deleted all, and eventually produced a finished product. I toyed around with “should I” for quite awhile…and I decided on YES.

This is my first post where I’ll be referring to my ex as my ex-boyfriend, not my ex husband–hooray! That means progress.

Let’s rewind for a moment…When I left Germany, I kind of slithered out of there, hopped on a plane with my best friend and headed back to America. Only a handful of people knew the real story as to why I was abandoning ship but it really wasn’t any ones business, nor was I ready to be brutally honest with myself, or others.

Fast forward. I came back to the States, got situated and fell for “a new guy.” It was quick, it was passionate, and it was intense. Nothing I planned for, but something I welcomed.

Insert vacations, living together, working together, planning the next move together…and it being too much too soon (for me).

I was somewhere in between working on being solo but in a relationship at the same time. I was finalizing my divorce but also attempting to bud, blossom and nourish a new relationship. Bad idea.

Our relationship was somewhat public. People liked us together, and when we broke up it was difficult. Not only because I had to explain the entire situation to all of my clients, and he to his, but also because I felt like I had just gone through a break up that I was able to conceal, yet this one everyone knew about. It also let everyone in on the fact that I was married…and divorced. It was a blow to the ego, I was slightly ashamed and felt that it was yet another relationship I couldn’t salvage.

For a period of time after the split things were awkward, really, really awkward. Yet we soon learned we needed to devise a plan of how to work with each other. Prior to the relationship we had a conversation about “what if”. We were both on the same page in that our work ethic, and career meant more to us than our relationship- that if it ever came down to it, we’d choose our careers.

I built my new life around Philly Phitness, I loved my clients, the atmosphere and the people I worked with. I could have left, (some days I wanted to)…but I didn’t. Despite not always acting like it, we are adults, and we had to figure our shit out.

Since getting divorced, and suffering through some pretty intense growing pains I’ve learned quite a few things not only about myself, but about life.

I’ve learned:

  • That no matter the situation you have to take the good with the bad, and play up the good when the bad is really, really bad.
  • That contrary to my own beliefs—I wasn’t always right. (Whoa!)
  • That sometimes you end up with fragments of the person you once despised and tried so hard not to become…

In Germany I would often attend dinners, galas, and community outreach events. I felt like a fish out of water. I followed along with my husband, had no idea what they (the Airmen, Troops, and all other Military personnel) were talking about, and I didn’t particularly find it interesting to talk about what rank someone was, or how they met a Three Star General…. I wanted to talk about my dreams, about fitness, and how I envisioned my life playing out.

That was something I craved, and lacked for a very long time. I didn’t have someone that fully understood and could comprehend my dreams, but I found that in my ex-boyfriend.

Perry and I grew up in two very different worlds. His mindset was something that I wanted to learn, to figure out, and begin implementing. He had been on his own for quite some time, and used that as an opportunity to figure out his life plan.

As for me—well, I was just getting to that point. Initially he had a way of coming off very cocky and I didn’t get it, yet I wanted to. I later came to realize that it wasn’t him being cocky as much as it was he being confident. He knew that everything he would do would be a success, even if that meant taking something away from his failures. He taught me that if people were jealous of my goals, of my dreams, or of my outlook then that was their problem, not mine.

I’ve always had a great work ethic but he helped me to see that whatever I really wanted, whatever I was truly passionate about, I’d find a way to make it happen despite all of the roadblocks that would come my way.

I’m sure people will be quick to judge me for blogging about my ex-boyfriend and how much he’s taught me, directly or indirectly but that’s life. You take the up’s with down’s and learn from both of them. We’re taught to move on, forget the past and get on with our future. I support it, but I also believe in allowing someone or something to teach you along the way, you just have to be willing to learn a lesson.

At first there were characteristic traits that really got under my skin, they didn’t make sense to me, and I wasn’t interested in understanding them. As time went on (especially after the break up) I came to realize why he did things the way he did, and I’ve slowly begun to admire him for them. One thing he showed me, and told me was that if someone doesn’t like me, or judges me based off of something someone else has told them—then F*ck them! You know who you are, and that’s all that matters, and that you only need the people in your life that need you in theirs.

I was with Perry throughout one of the most traumatic times in my life. I was morphing into a new being, and desperately needed to learn about myself. He allowed me to see things for what they were and understand the emotions that I didn’t think others noticed. He helped me navigate my insecurities, but also reminded me of my strengths. Reminded me that my vision, my brand, and my presence all had a need.

He taught me to take risks. One of the biggest ones I took was on him. I had trust issues, I was fragile, and needed someone to show me that I deserved to be loved. He did that.

Yet, when a traumatic life event happened for him I wasn’t there. Physically I was there, but emotionally no one was home. He depended on me in the same ways I depended on him, for love, support, encouragement, and for someone to pick up the pieces when they began to crumble.

At the time I honestly thought I was that person, I thought I was there; in his corner…but now I see it differently. If I were to write this post six months ago it would have been completely different. I would have seen it through my eyes, and my eyes only. They would have painted a picture of me being there for him, but not the amount that he required; yet as I sit here today I’m able to look back at the situation and say I fucked up, I dropped the ball, and for that I’m incredibly sorry.

I felt like the divorce and everything I was going through was so traumatic because I allowed myself to be vulnerable, because I let someone in that didn’t deserve to be, and as a result I was taken advantage of. Unfortunately the aftermath left me self absorbed, and selfish, but the problem is that I didn’t realize it until it was too late.

Michael (my ex-husband) was selfish, failed to acknowledge my feelings, and obviously put himself, (and other women) first. He had character flaws that I wanted to disassociate from, yet – to a degree I took some of them on, I took them with me, and into my new relationship. I was so focused on my healing and my recovery that I neglected to see that others (my ex-boyfriend) needed someone to allow them to heal, and mend open wounds as well.

Generally speaking, love is a noun, it’s a feeling, but realistically speaking love needs to be a verb, an action that holds a higher regard.

It’s easy to play the victim, to get caught up in our own personal drama, and allow it to so easily affect the relationship we have with others. Yet it’s that pivotal moment when you lose someone, where you begin to see who you really are. That doesn’t mean you can’t change, it simply means that you have a choice to grow into something better.

Personally I can’t always see things for what they truly are in the moment, often times I need to take a step back, or step out to realize things aren’t as they should be. If I could turn back the hands of time I would have done things differently, I would have taken more time to grown individually and not transfer such empty hearted feelings onto someone else.

I loved him (my ex-boyfriend), and still do, but my actions said something different.

Unfortunately things didn’t play out as I intended them to, they never really do- and that’s life. Yet, I’ve learned, I’ve grown, and I’ve loved, and that’s really all I can ask for.

Jayel_Sig

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Perry O’Hearn//Costa Rica

 

 

Home Alone…for the holidays

Everyone is a stranger at some point, before you get to know them. The question I find myself asking is if you ever really, truly, madly, deeply get to know them…

My life was supposed to be exciting; living all over the world, finding ways to fall in love over and over again, creating a family built on lasting friendships since I’d never be able to live close to mine.

When we meet “the one” we plan our life, what we expect it to look like, what we see our future playing out to be, all the details, all the good things. But naturally what we don’t plan is the downfall, the way everything will unravel. The way that we will pick up all of the pieces, mend our hearts and start not only a new chapter but a brand new novel.

JLF_0002-3441036274-O

As I was sitting with my psychologist last week I found myself speaking about the Holidays and how despite being with someone; a companion on all of the major ones; Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve for the past decade I seemed ok that this year I would be alone. Leaving her office I felt a sense of contentment, an emotion that has often been tough for me to master.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been in a relationship. Of course Michael was my most serious, and longest one. He was “the one” that I married. Our holidays were mainly spent in Arizona and filled with family, friends, chaos, and a break from DC’s bitter winters.

Once back in the States I found myself in an unexpected yet exciting relationship. I too planned that future. It was built on something that was lacking in my previous relationship, something that I desperately needed. Trust. Sure, I had my moments of relapse but it was still different. It was an adventure, but truth be told, I wasn’t ready. As much as I wanted to be, as much as I wanted to pretend I didn’t have as much baggage as delta airlines, I did- and I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t pretend that I was fully healed from my past and able to give someone else what they needed. I couldn’t do that because I never gave myself time to reflect and become whole again.

Unfortunately things don’t always work out as planned. Predicting your future doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the outcome.

I’ve spent many nights thinking about what I did wrong in each relationship, how I could have done things differently and how the end result may have changed.

As I ask my clients what their plans are for the holidays they respond, and in turn ask me what mine are…

This year I plan to keep it pretty low key, not set too many expectations but rather allow myself some time to be ok with being alone. For me, this is a milestone. A true turning point. Literally the first time in ten years that I’ve been on my own.

Sure, I get sad thinking of what me ex’s may be up to, celebrating with new and old loved ones but I have to remind myself that everything truly does happen for a reason. And I believe that with all of my heart.

In the years past I probably would have been quite anxious at the thought of being alone around the Holidays but I’m happy that I’m content. I’m grateful that I’m getting to know myself. Many pieces of me were lost in translation along the way and I’ve been given this chance of self discovery. This time alone to really figure out who I am and who I want to be.

I have to put my energy towards filling up my tank to make sure that when the time comes I’m not on E.

Jayel_Sig