An Honest Conversation with Erin on Unhealthy Relationships

Erin's experience with unhealthy relationships. 

It’s hard to leave. To accept that now what is best for the both of you is no longer each other. When it starts, it feels like the best thing in the world. To one another you are new and exciting, illuminating, even. He’s your best friend. Over time maybe things change, or maybe you do and he doesn’t. His home life is hard for him, and you know for a fact you’re the first thing he’s ever truly loved. You carry the weight of all the people who don’t love him like they should, but mostly you carry him. You start to check in on his schooling. “When do you have a test?” and “How did you do?” are regular parts of your daily conversation now. He didn’t ask for it, but you carry the weight nonetheless. Eventually, without realizing, you stop carrying yours.

You don’t think he knows how to push himself, you don’t think anyone else actually cares enough to get him there either. Although you know it’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that none of them know how to face their problems, none of them seem to know how to step back and assess. And so, he never learned to either. You love him, so unconsciously you’re trying to teach him. Except you’re not his mother, and you shouldn’t have to teach him these things. It takes you months of arguing and being upset to realize you’re his safety blanket, and maybe that he’s yours too. What used to be talks about the universe becomes sitting on your laptop watching Netflix while he plays video games. You know he loves this, that in a lot of ways he needs it; you don’t know how to tell yourself you need something different now, although there was a time not so long ago when you loved it too.

You don’t know how to tell yourself that you need to be alone for the first time in a long time.

You love him so much, you always will. The way he smiles and the things he knows about the world that you never thought to look up. When he lights up talking about science or the way he looks at you on the mornings you wake up slowly together.

He makes you so frustrated. The way he’ll wake up in the morning and immediately crack open a beer; the way you feel you have to worry that he’s going to become something you know he hates. You see the best in him, always, but get so disheartened when you feel like he can’t ever see himself, not enough to grow and not enough to appreciate.

You tell him it would be sweet for him to buy you flowers; you know gift buying stresses him out and think the suggestion would be helpful. Flowers can be cheap; you’ve made it clear you aren’t a roses kind of gal. After years together, never once do you get flowers. Your dad remains the only man who has ever brought you any. It seems small, maybe even materialistic, but eventually the complete disregard of you and what you say becomes too much, you feel like you don’t exist anymore. The flowers are just the one concrete example you have to stick evidence to your hurt. You think you’re communicating the absolute best you can to him. His reactions make you feel like maybe you really are that word you hate…crazy.

You aren’t crazy, but you won’t see that until after you end things.

When he finally stops being passive aggressive and addresses things you’ve done that make him upset, you try to address them immediately. You always go straight for a solution. You feel terrible because the last thing you ever want is to make him sad, or hurt, or upset. After a while his crude comments about you going out and what you wear will make you stop going, will make you feel like you can’t or shouldn't, will make you stop hanging out with your friends, will even make you feel like you need to shame them for it. Will make you feel shamed. Will make you try too hard to figure out why he doesn’t trust you, why he lumps you in with “everyone” when he’s supposed to be the person that knows you the best, who knows you’d never do something to hurt him, when he’s seen you go through that before yourself. You wonder what you did to cause all of this in him, why it’s your entire fault.

You stop doing certain things because after a while you know those things mean arguments, and you’re so tired of fighting.

After almost two years of dating he’ll fail to show up to your birthday celebration, he won’t even remember to call. You know then it’s over. That he isn’t ready to admit it yet, because change is scary, but that it’s obvious to both of you that it’s time to let go. When you break up, you sugar coat over things you wanted to say to him, because still you’re looking out for him first, trying to keep him from getting angry or upset. You won’t say “I’m worried you have alcoholic tendencies, you’re a mean drunk half the time,” you won’t say “I think you need to go to therapy, not because you’re crazy, but because you need to turn to a professional and not me, because I can’t carry more than just myself right now.” You won’t say what you can’t put into words in front of him, which is that you think he fails to take responsibility for his shit, to learn. That even when he missed your birthday, he had excuses. Terrible ones. That when he missed a week of school and missed assignments that it was his own fault, and that’s okay, but stop acting like he couldn’t have done anything about it. That he doesn’t like his friends but isn’t doing anything to make new ones.

That as much as you love him, you can’t be with someone who can’t admit if they’re wrong, who can’t grow away from what they don’t like, who can’t accept change just as badly as you can’t sometimes.

When you walk away, you’ll feel like you aren’t really leaving, because you know how much you truly love each other. You won’t know how to process it, so you don’t. You will throw yourself into school and work and making new friends, because if you stop moving you will suffocate from the worrying, from the feelings of responsibility, guilt, and upset that crashes over you when you think of him. When your best guy friend asks you to hang out, you’ll wonder if you shouldn’t, even though you’re only friends, just to save your ex's feelings. When the nice neighbor boys ask you and your roommate over to hang out and listen to records until 3am, you worry he’ll see you’re somewhere boys are on snapchat and be upset. When your other roommate breaks up with her long-term boyfriend, the two of you will sit drinking coffee in the living room, wondering if the two boys you love so much will make it without you. And that’s when you realize you were being his mother and not his girlfriend. That’s when you realize you stopped having your own life to accommodate his version of you.

You will finally realize it’s okay to do whatever you’d like, because you deserve it just as much as he does.

You’ll wonder what will happen in the future, if the two of you will grow separately in ways that one-day mesh back together. You’ll know it won’t happen anytime soon, that growth like this takes years, that both of you have lots of growing to do. That it’s not just him who needs to work on himself, but you as well. You’ll wonder if he knows he’s family, whether in a romantic sense or not, and that that’s for life. You realize you have to let go because if you’re carrying him this much now, and he never learns to do it himself, you’ll be carrying him forever, and he’ll never become the man you know he’s meant to be. So you let go, and it hurts, but you’re both better off for it in time.

Mothering a boyfriend is not what a relationship should be.

Partnerships are teamwork, you’re meant to both carry one another.

- Erin


Editor's note: small edits have been made to the original for readability or understanding


Getting a Library Card

Yes, signing my name took me back to the very first card.

A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be gifted an iPad, which has been integral to my busy lifestyle, but most importantly, it has been essential to my mental health for one reason: I've been reading more. 

While the allure of buying new books to read in the iBook app is strong,  it isn't practical or possible to spend twelve dollars (at least!!) on a book every couple of days. Introducing Overdrive, my latest happy place. It syncs with libraries all across the country for you to store your books in one place and read them like iBook reads. Queue the happy dance. All you need is an email and the number on the back of your library card (which you get for free at any public library), and you're golden.

I know it might sound silly, but it's just really nice to have something simple and readily accessible. I've been reading before bed instead of watching Netflix or Hulu, and my quality of sleep is better. Plus, I have some really interesting conversation starters now.

I'm currently obsessed with Fates and Furies (no surprise, as I've talked about it all week) and have The Girls, Men Explain Things to Me, and Maestra on hold.  

It's fun that all it took was a library card. 


+What are you reading? 


Healthy Snacks for the Office

Granola popsicles are something you need in your life. 

Editor's Note: This post originally ran August 24th, 2016. The Team thought it best to bring back to the forefront of our minds, as resolutions may have fallen to the wayside and mindless snacking on the rise. Office snacks are great to have on hand for any time you're so hungry you want to bite someone and too tired to do anything more than go to the vending machine. Keep nearby to stave off disaster. Xx. 

Normally my day goes something like this: I snag a filling breakfast, scarf down a quick lunch, and then it's 4 p.m., and I am so hungry, I can't decide whether to wait until dinner and know I'll be an emotional mess or eat everything in sight until I'm bloated and uncomfortable. Sound familiar?

What do I snack on at the office or on really busy days? is a question I get from almost every client of mine. The issue usually to be solved lies in being restricted to the snacks present in the office rather than what is sustaining and nutritious. It is because of this problem that settling for a candy bar or stale chips only to be hungry 20 minutes later is more common than not. Since I am going to be working with some amazing interns soon, and having snacks at creative meetings is a must for me, I wanted to group together delicious alternatives that kick boring snacks like granola bars to the curb. 

I love these snacks because of their low sugar content, mix of healthy fats and protein, and minimally, if at all, processed ingredients. Enjoy!  

The perfect savory balance between creamy and crunchy. It's a colorful treat for your eyes and a flavorful party for your tastebuds. Using carrots, celery, peppers, or whatever vegetables you have on hand is a great way to up your vegetable intake and ensure nothing you buy goes to waste. Great Vibes Tip: Buy plain hummus and stir in extras for a change of pace (i.e. olives and oregano, parsley and lemon, pine nuts and basil, hot sauce, etc.).

Rice Cakes.jpg

Whether you call them rice crackers or cakes, they usually are accompanied by horrified faces from childhood memories of plain, stale snacks. But, they've gotten quite the remix. What I love about these is the crunch factor you can't get from a simple slice of bread. I've shown you two ways here: one with avocado, cayenne, salt, and pepper; and the other with almond butter and banana. Great Vibes Tip: Try peanut butter with a drizzle of honey or hummus with a slice of tomato. Endless options. Delish!

3.jpg

Probably my favorite of this entire bunch and one you can only really do if your office has a freezer. That being said, it is incredibly simple. Blend up one banana, a dash of cinnamon, and three (+/-) cups of coconut milk. Divide the mixture among your popsicle molds. I used an actually popsicle mold, but paper cups, old yogurt containers, or an ice cube tray works flawlessly. Place in the freezer for ten minutes. After the ten minutes are up, cover the exposed part with granola, press down gently, and then push your popsicle stick into place. Cover and freeze until solid. Great Vibes Tip: Make your own granola! Bake 3 cups oats, 1/2 cup buckwheat, and two tablespoons chia seeds on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes. While baking, stir together two tablespoons coconut oil, two tablespoons maple syrup or honey, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and half a teaspoon of turmeric. After the dry ingredients have become slightly fragrant, remove from the oven, mix with the wet ingredients, and place back into the oven. Turn the oven off, and let sit for 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Keeps well in a glass container in the refrigerator. 

I could chat the benefits of kombucha for an incredibly long time, and you've seen me make cocktails with it here and here. I love this snack, because it is easy for on-the-go travel. It provides healthy bacteria and that sweet and savory element that satisfies almost all cravings. To make the roasted chickpeas, strain the liquid from one can, pat to dry with a paper towel, and mix with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and black pepper, salt, and cayenne to taste. Bake on a baking sheet at 395 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes, stirring every 5 or so, until crispy and crunchy. Great Vibes Tip: Don't like chickpeas? Roast cashews or almonds for a delicious alternative. 

Sometimes, nothing is going to satisfy that sweet craving except chocolate. Rather than dive into a bag of M&Ms (though that has a time and place) choose rich, dark chocolate, preferably 65% cacao or higher. The above chocolate is found at Trader Joe's with an impressive cacao content of 82 percent. Have a couple squares and savor each piece. If you still want more 10 minutes later, have another square. Repeat until satisfied. 

+What is your favorite snack here? Which one are you most likely to make?


An Honest Conversation with Shelby on Unhealthy Relationships

Shelby's experience with unhealthy relationships. 

Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

He was my best friend, my first love, and ours was a whirlwind kind of love. We met volunteering — he was artsy and charming, he painted on canvas and was in a band. The second day I saw him, he was covered in paint; it was streaked on his cheek, and my heart slammed hard in my chest. I showed him all the places I loved most in my town. Our first kiss tasted of tacos. We slow danced to records in his living room. It was three months of perfection until it suddenly wasn’t perfect anymore.

We had moved in together, we talked about marriage, we held hands and danced everywhere and took thousands of pictures together. But I also sobbed countless times as he screamed at me for something as small as a facial expression. I ached physically to be perfect for him, to be what he needed. He was being destroyed by a diagnosis -- rapid cycling bi-polar disorder -- he refused to treat. I spent a year sacrificing my own mental health to try and cure his. I went to work exhausted from staying up until 3 a.m. fighting and crying. I’d come home from work, my entire body in physical pain from being on edge. I was in a constant state of fight-or-flight. I told my closest friends we were fighting but I didn’t tell them the extent of it.

He never physically hurt me but his words marked my soul. 

The hardest part was I never stopped loving him. So much of the darkness was his untreated mental illness which didn’t mix at all well with my own depression, anxiety, and PTSD. After countless conversations with my best friend, I knew I couldn’t allow myself to suffer any longer. He and I talked about his moving out, that it would save our relationship to have our own spaces. He did move, but as he was packing, I knew I would be letting him go. 

It was a gradual un-tying.

I couldn’t just rip the band-aid off. We went back and forth for several months, sometimes everything was pure bliss, other times it was the same cyclical hell. The difference was I could leave; when he wanted to fight, I could just walk away, and eventually, I stopped returning.

It has been a year and a half since things were really over, and in all honesty I still miss him often.

We tried to maintain a friendship, but it only hurt us both. He has since received help and bettered his life. I’ve had moments where I wanted to go back, but my best friend reminds me every time of the darkness I experienced. 

There are many times where I think “Oh man, I wish I could tell *L* about this.” And I question constantly if he’s doing okay. It’s been a process to recover and there are times I question if I ever want to release my heart to be in a relationship again.

And that’s where I still struggle - I gave all of my heart to someone, and then suddenly they weren’t there anymore.

It is really hard feeling like I lost a best friend in this process. Knowing it enabled him to finally seek help, knowing it made me an even stronger person, and knowing I made the wisest decision I could, there are still moments of lingering grief.

It is a daily practice of personal growth to not transfer these fears and hurts onto other relationships. I’ve gone on first dates and not been able to go on a second, because something they did reminded me of him. I’ve made disclaimers about my actions or words in fear of setting someone off and created confusion when I placed his hurts on them. I do feel like I’m truly in a healthier place now, but I’ve only reached this place in the past couple months, and I know there is still more healing to go.

- Shelby  


Editor's note: small edits have been made to the original for readability or understanding; *L* is to preserve the anonymity of Shelby's ex

Tuesday Vibes

After a forced week away, we're feeling all things TGVG. Here are our favorite inspirations this week. 

This week, it feels like Tuesday is Monday, and all we want to be is sitting in the sun somewhere reading a good book. To combat our wishing-it-were-weekend mood, we're sharing our inspirations to get us through the week, whether it's a book we're finishing reading (Em's new obsession) or the food we're craving. Have a look, click the links to read more, and let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

+ What are you inspired by this week?