Monday, June 20, 2011

we stopped checking for monsters under the bed when we realized they were inside us

We all live in our separate houses, boarded up with steel and nails, floating around our stairs and landings like ghosts, all mysteries to each other. Our houses are our safe places, the caves that no one else can reach, that only we know the exact location of. We curl up into the corners of our rooms and showers when the life and the world threatens to knock on our doors, seeking entry. We put up the wall around our minds and we descend into ourselves, like Dante into the Inferno, sheltering ourselves against the unknown and the unwanted. For we do not want life and we do not want the world or happiness. It scares us, for our human instincts, those whispering demons that sprouted in the womb with us and spread out to our brains, tell us that we should be miserable. That is what makes us so great and so special, the fact that we are all so miserable most of the time, subconsciously cherishing our masochism, but consciously whining and complaining about how unhappy we are. Yet we do nothing about it, we simply rock back and forth, back and forth in our corners and let the scalding water beat against our backs as our eyes stay closed and dare not open for fear of seeing light.

But we must go out into the world and mingle with others like ourselves. We place our armours carefully, our bulletproof clothes and we bravely step outside and walk out the door. Our feet carry us to other buildings, other hiding places, and we roam the streets like hungry wolves waiting for something that we don't quite know. And we wait until the moment we die and then perhaps, some of us realize what it is we truly are looking for, but most of us do not and we perish with sadness in our eyes, still unknowing why we have been so unhappy all of our lives.

And so we walk in the cities and sit in the planes and gesture to strangers and speak to our friends, but there is one thing we do not ever talk about, and that is the monsters. We all have them, deep within our bones and heart, our veins and marrow, they permeate our very souls and we know that they will never leave because like the demons that sprouted in the womb with us, these monsters developed once we were born. Their mother was light, no father to create them, but our bodies became their homes, and they took on the forms of children. They can be seen by anyone of us quite well in the sunlight, for they appear as our shadows, moving exactly like us and mimicking every action that we make. Though the monsters grow as we grow, their spirits never cease to be children, and if one looks very closely, one can see them dancing in the day.

But we humans, we have this trait that we are frightened of everything that we do not understand, and we did not understand why these monsters would want to thrive within us. They opened their hands and smiled at us and told us they would not hurt us, that they were simply here because we are human, not complete animals, humans, and that we are different and need them. But we shook our heads with horror because their hands had sharpened claws, and their teeth were covered with the blood of our brethren and we took steps back and ran. And these monsters, saddened, ran after us, trying to catch us and make us realize that we have no choice, we all have monsters. They tried to make us realize that the only way their claws would retract and their lust for blood would diminish was if we turned toward them and we welcomed them, discussed with them our fears and dreams and hopes and all that is important to man. But humans rarely face what frightens us so the monsters decided to infiltrate our bodies anyway, without a welcome and to stay there until we decided to talk to them. Of course, like us, they grow and they change, but unlike us, they become stronger the more they are ignored. The more we run away from them, the more they become saddened, angry, and lonely, the harder they try to get our attention and soon, they overpower us. It is not their faults, for they are simply monsters and from where they come from, they do not understand this concept of running, they only know of confrontation.

Human nature and monsters have not gotten along together since the beginning of humanity. The former believes, because it has originated from those pure animals that it is superior than the latter. Most humans agree with this and therefore when the demons whisper that these monsters are bad or that these ones are good, we believe them and we either run away harder and push them further down or we slow down to a walking pace and extend a hand to them. However, only the monsters truly know which one of them is good and which one is bad and they have realized that we have got it all backwards. Jealousy, we believe, is a sign that we truly love another human being, whereas the monster Jealousy knows that she is truly one of the worst monsters to be born. Lust, tortured and murdered and spit at for centuries, knows in her heart of hearts that she is one of the most cherished monsters and unfalteringly waits for us to change our minds about her. Yet there are other more powerful monsters such as Power, Pedophilia, Murder, and Cannibalism that we truly do fear for our demons have told us that they are the worst and that we must never look back or we will give in to our urges and we will truly be lost.

And yes, it is true that these monsters are truly powerful and that if we give into our urges, we are truly lost but our demons are not right all of the time. And we do not have the minds or the desire to contradict them so we blindly trust them and run and run and run until we cannot run anymore and the most powerful of monsters, Time, comes, hand in hand with Death, and takes us away. And when Death asks us if we have anything more to say, we sob and ask what we did wrong.

You did not face your monsters. There is no reason to run from them, for if you do, you will not live the life you want and you will always ask yourself why you are so unhappy. You will run to your corner and your house more and more until you will be afraid to walk from it because you will believe that your monster is outside your window looking at your, smiling with those blood-stained teeth, when in reality, it has been inside you all along, patiently waiting for you to speak to it. Do not ignore your monsters for they are not as frightening as you deem them to be. Hush those demons and stop running, turn around, and invite what is inside you to come out. Discuss with yourself why you are so afraid, discuss with yourself that you truly are strong. For your monsters do not want to tear you down and they do not understand why you scream at them so when all they are doing is waiting for you. Only you can tear yourself down and it is your fault if your monsters grow and you burst, for only you let them do that and only you ran and ignored them. If the monsters truly are a danger, then you must curb them, like a parent curbs a child and they will learn to listen to you. Until then, they will be pouting as they face the wall, concocting plans of revenge in their infantile minds.

Do not be afraid of those around you, for they have the same monsters that you do. We are all the same and we all have these creatures within us. Whether we only have Lust or whether we have Pedophilia, we all must face what we fear and decide whether we truly must fear it or whether we must accept it and be careful that our demons do not grow louder and louder and tell us that our monsters have overpowered us. They cannot and they will not unless we let them and unless we want them to. It is not our monsters that we must be afraid of, it is our human nature, that which we take for granted. We must not take anything for granted, we must always think through it and let it confront us, for then we will not ask us why we cannot step out once again from our houses. We will not ask Death why we are so unhappy and we will not whimper self-pityingly for decades, believing we are powerless. We are not. We are more powerful than our monsters and our demons and we are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Eating Disorder Story

This entry was an answer to a Facebook interview someone asked me to do for a newspaper about my eating disorder. The questions she asked me were:

1. what specific eating disorder did you have?
2. when did it begin? how did it begin?
3. what went through your mind throughout? during it, what happened?
4. what snapped you out of it? did you have outside help?
5. what lasting impact has the experience left on you?

i had bulimia nervosa. i didn't throw up after i had eaten, instead i starved myself during the week and then binged on the weekend. it was easier to control myself not to eat during the week since my mother wasn't at home most of the day and we only ate dinner together. so, i would eat about a meal a day and because we usually don't eat a heavy dinner, it would be about 300 or 400 calories. later on, i would ration my dinner too and eat as little as i could get away with. during the weekends though, it was harder, so i just binged on what i could get my hands on.

it began my junior year, so about two years ago, in the fall when school started. the summer is usually a very bad time emotionally for me because of various reasons. one is that i'm the kind of person who if i don't have a regimented schedule i fall to pieces. school or work is when i'm happiest because i actually do something. that was a minor reason. the major reason was because of family and personal issues. i was going through a time of extreme confusion and doubt about a lot of things. and i don't really know how it exactly started, but i suppose i grew jealous. i wanted to be thin. intellectually, rationally, i knew i was thin. i usually weigh about 96 pounds and i'm 5 feet, so i'm already a bit underweight as it is. my usual calorie intake is about 800-1000 and i don't exercise. i'm not a health nut, but i don't eat fast food and i don't eat a lot of fat or sweets, nor fruit or vegetables and not much meat either. i'm mostly a carbohydrates girl.

anyway, my goal that i put for myself was 75 pounds. why 75? that was what i weighed when i started puberty, i think. i had weighed that in middle school and i suppose this perverse thought of going back to how i was physically, in middle school would make me...more attractive, perhaps? again, rationally, this weight would probably have killed me. i'll explain this in another point, but there's not that much logic when it comes to these things, unfortunately. i thought of it as a contest. i wanted to be thinner than everyone in my circle of friends (even though i already was). and i did want to be more attractive, even though rationally, i knew anorexic girls are extremely unattractive. 

 throughout, there was always a little voice that said ''re thin', but of course you push that little voice away and you keep doing it. there's not much rationalization when you're going through this even though there's a ton of obsession. i remember that every single day for about six months, food was all i'd think about. i'd think about when, what, how much i'd eat and if my plan a didn't work out, i'd make a plan b. as in, if someone made me eat this, i wouldn't eat that later on. and if i did eat it, i could compensate tomorrow by not eating this. it was pretty horrible. it was terrifying, actually. i started writing my calorie intake in a notebook. at one point, it dropped to about 100 or 200. my hair started falling out in clumps, i would faint and i ocassionally passed out. my birth control stopped working because my hormones got all screwed up. i lost about ten pounds, which for a lot of people is nothing, but at the weight i am, losing that much is like losing 100 for many. if i had lost 20, like i had planned to, i would probably be dead by now. 

what snapped me out of it was probably the trip to peru during winter break, more or less. i got explosive diarrhea because i drank the water there (mistake, don't do it, seriously) and for a week, i was on water and practically no food, while i was hiking the macchu picchu trail. it was beyond horrific. i binged a lot on that trip, but i still figured i had lost some weight, so when i got back home, i weighed myself, and realized i hadn't lost anything. at that time i was basically just like 'fuck this. i'm tired of doing this.' it takes a lot out of you, emotionally, physically, mentally. it takes a lot to curb your appetite, to refuse that food that you usually love, to not eat, to think all the time about what you're going to eat...and there's this point where you ask yourself 'why am i doing this? is this really helping me?' i decided that no, it wasn't.

people tried to help me. my friends obviously noticed that i was refusing to eat. my mother noticed, though she used the yelling and threatening tactic which i don't recommend, because it doesn't help much. one of my friends even sent me to the counselor, which also didn't help at all. the thing is, that it doesn't matter how much someone tells you you're not fat or that you're beautiful or that they love doesn't matter until you start believing it. it's really great that you have support in those times, but i'm sorry to say usually doesn't help until afterward, in retrospect. at the time, you're extremely selfish and you don't listen really to anybody. you know they mean you well, but it's a very personal experience that only you can get through. i'm not saying that supporting and trying to help someone who is anorexic or bulimic is should do it. but you should also know that it's their decision to stop and get better and not much you can say will change their minds unless they decide to listen to you and that's /their/ decision. 

i'm not sure about institutions where this type of behaviour is corrected. it may help, for all i know. i know that a lot of people who go through this are extremely stubborn and don't want to be helped at all. i know i am. i'm the kind of person who wants to do everything by myself and i don't want or need anyone's help. there's this point where someone realizes that they're extremely close to dying and only they can get themselves out of that, or they suck it up and get help. 

all people are different obviously, and support is very much needed for this. however, it would also help if american society and societies in general curbed their love for skinny. skinny is great as long as you're healthy and healthy is not anorexic/bulimic. positive body image is needed, not only in young girls/women, but also in men. there's this new fad going on called thinspo, where on blog sites girls who are anorexic/bulimic post encouragement in the form of pictures of extremely thin girls. they egg each other on to eat less, to look like those's really quite depressing and heartbreaking, and i don't think this would be as frequent if the above issues were solved. another thing is the way you've been raised. a lot of people turn to anorexia because of family or personal issues, like i did, either as a form of control, or a reaction to an event. 

so it's helpful if parents don't criticize their child's weight. suggest. it's not healthy to be overweight either (not the bmi way, that's inaccurate). it's good to be in between. genetics and bone structure are also another consideration. if you're a curvy latina chick, you are not going to be able to fit in a negative size of pants, okay? it just won't happen. 

it's also helpful to realize that if you do get into this kind of behaviour, that you can always get out. always. there's always support for you and you are always the captain of your own ship (cheesy i know but it's completely true). skinnier does not mean hotter, in fact it's probably the other way around. if you see a woman who's all skin and bones, i guarantee you that is not hot. that is scary. 

lasting impact? well, the positive thing is empathizing with people who have this problem. the other positive thing is knowing that i need to be healthy. normally, as i said before, i don't eat much. i don't need that much to keep me going. i've started drinking more water (i usually drink about one tenth of what's recommended), i'm decreasing my consumption of meat and increasing my consumption of fruit. i've also painfully and slowly started exercising more. i've been swimming a bit more and i've decided i'm going to start running once the fall semester starts. even start badminton again. either way, it's extremely important to be hydrated, eat a balanced diet, exercise, all that good stuff. because truly, if you are healthy, you will be happier in yourself. there are urges to go back to that kind of eating, but it's important to remember that it won't help you at all. i know a lot of people personally who struggle with this and who also struggle with cutting additionally. usually, eating disorders come from a very deep issue and it's not the problem, it's the symptom. so only because you've stopped puking or stopped starving yourself doesn't mean the issue isn't still there. you have to do some introspection and realize why you did it in the first place, why you're continuing, why you stopped, and figure out and solve the problem. that's easier said than done, i know, but it can definitely be done if you're determined to do it. it's damn hard to do it, but it's really worth it in the end. 

this really goes for all problems, whether it's cutting, eating disorders, depression,'s only a symptom of the problem (okay, maybe not depression, that's a different discussion in itself), and only because you've stopped doesn't mean it won't come back again or that you've killed the beast. you haven't. you've just cut off its tail. 

the last and most important thing to remember is that we as humans are fragile and strong at the same time. we can be stronger than we think and at the same time, more fragile than we think. but usually, as human instinct, we like to think ourselves stronger than we think, which is a good thing because it's an optimistic quality that we need for human survival. sometimes, we have to remember we're fragile, usually when we're doing dangerous things like drugs or driving at 120 mph through a wall. we're not immortal, we die.

but in times like these where we think we're beaten, we truly aren't, unless we think we are. our minds and our determinations and wills play more important parts in our lives than we think. we can change, if we want to. we can do this, if we want to. if we think we can. we are fully capable.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My High School Experience

Today I graduated high school. I'm not sure how you're supposed to feel on these occasions, if you're supposed to feel relieved, happy, sad, nostalgic, or disappointed, but I don't feel anything. I don't feel joyous that I've finished and I don't feel sad that I'm never going to be a high school student again. I'm not resentful of my experience either and I'm not whooping for excitement about college. I don't really feel anything, to be honest. Not even numb or in limbo, just nothing. I'm pretty much waiting to see what will happen in the future, in college, and beyond. 

Several weeks ago, I realized that who I was as a freshman is drastically different than who I am now. In ninth grade, at the age of fourteen, I was at the height of my puberty angst. My first day of high school was not the way I had seen in the movies. No bully pushed band members into lockers, no cheerleaders walked the hallways in groups. Stereotypical high school didn't seem to happen in a 3,500 student high school in which anonymity was pretty much guaranteed until you found a little group of people you could call friends. Yes, there were cliques, but it seemed that there were more ethnic-based than interest-based--the Asian hallway and the basketball courts packed with African Americans and Hispanics were more noticeable than the jocks, cheerleaders, goths, punks, or whatever stereotype people went by in middle school. Except the Tree People. But the Tree People are the Tree People* so let's not get into that. Though I do remember that the one thing that surprised me on the first day was walking home from school and seeing two students smoking. Amused, I told myself 'I'm in high school'. But so, freshman year was pretty painful personal life-wise and school-wise.  I was extremely self-conscious and had horrible self-esteem and I've never been a really great student so I didn't really know how to study when actual classes like Pre-AP Biology came around. Sophomore year came around and I did better in school, I learnt the beauty of all-nighters and caffeine tolerance, and I began being a bit more confident in myself. That year though was the pivotal point in the last four years because at the end of it, I had realized some very important things about myself and others. I had become definitely more open-minded than I had ever thought myself to be and I had entertained and accepted concepts that a lot of people in today's society cringe at. I still marvel at myself, that I could have thought through those ideas and basically turned my values upside down, that I could have been that malleable. 

Junior year I dipped down again into low self-worth but got myself back up quite highly again by the end of that year only to plunge down into depression several months later. That stayed for about most of this last year until I got tired of myself and dragged myself out of the hole I had made and plopped myself where I am now, which truth be told, I don't know really where that is. I should be pretty happy that I'm done and I should be looking forward to this summer and to college, but I'm a bit wary of what will happen, especially at the latter. At the moment, I'm reading this book called I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (great book, by the way, I recommend it) about this naive, innocent girl who enters college and has some very terrible experiences because of her desire to 'look cool', 'fit in', and have 'friends'. I'm not really worried about becoming like Charlotte Simmons and regretting the decisions I make, because I have already experienced most of what she did in high school. I know that a lot of seniors are going to college with the idea that they're going to experiment with things and have fun. I'm not going there to experiment, I'm going there to learn. What worries me most about college, besides the fear that I have absolutely no idea what I want to major in, is that I'll have to sift through masses of idiots before I can get to the people I want to connect with. Of course, that's what happens everywhere, but I like the intelligent people to be right at the front or at least easily spotted rather than hidden. But I'm sure I'm going to make a quantity of great friends, just like I did in high school, and it will all work out. 

Friend-wise, I know that I will keep in touch with the people I care about most. I'm not worried about that at all. I'm a firm believer in doing what you want to and not regretting anything. If you want to keep in touch, you'll keep in touch. If you don't, you don't. Most of my friends will be staying in my state and even though it's huge, I can still manage stalking them at random times. I know that I'll talk to them and see them more or less frequently throughout these next few years and that I won't allow myself to lose them. If they decide to not keep in touch with me, that's a different issue. Thank you though, all of you, for putting up with me because I know I'm not the most delightful person to cope with all the time. Thanks also to you IB people. I fuckin' love you all. 

Looking back on this post, it seems kind of depressing. In reality, I have actually loved my high school experience, the good and the bad. There was a considerable amount of bad with the good, but most of it was self-produced, and because of that, I hope I have learnt some valuable lessons, most of which have to do with having high self-esteem. I'm pretty happy with myself after all, and I think that's actually the point of high school--to get through four years of hormonal issues and inner and outer turmoil and survive. No, not just survive, but emerge with flying colours. I think I have done just that. I feel semi-prepared for college, mostly prepared in the social section, and kind of anxious about the school section. But to think of it, I've done IB so I should be more or less least the first year. I am confident with myself, with how I've turned out these last years, and I hope that the next four will be just as productive as these have been. 

On a last note, I'd like to remind everyone from my school how incredibly lucky you are. I don't know if you all realize this but you are truly lucky to have graduated and have done so well from Bellaire. In such a state as Texas, in such a country as the United States even, you don't find very many schools that are so liberal, have so much diversity, and are as tough. The last point may not seem like an advantage but I'm sure that surviving four years of AP and/or IB in a highly competitive environment will make you more ready for college and life afterward than students from most other schools will be. I'm truly grateful that I went through the Bellaire experience. 

Finally, I'd like to give a special thanks to Mr. Newland--the conversations we've had were extremely helpful. You let me rant, say inappropriate things, and stay in your room about every morning for two years and by the end, I think that if I had had a problem and I had to go to someone at Bellaire to talk about it, I would have gone to you. Thank you. <3 Don't worry, I'll be back. :P

I'd also like to thank Ms. Linsley for being so dedicated and helpful to me and the IB students. 

And almost lastly, I'd like to thank Ms. Quaite, Mr. Mazzoni, Ms. Burnside, Ms. Bagley, Mr. Schaaf, Mr. Peek, Ms. Alford, and Mr. Casteel for being incredible teachers. 

And now, truly lastly, I'd like to thank my parents who had to deal with me for these past four years through puberty and my school problems. Hopefully, college won't be so bad. 

And now...for summer. 

*a group that sat by the huge tree in the courtyard made up mostly of techies

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Is Relationship Sex Better For You Than Casual Sex?

I've been wondering for a while the benefits of relationship sex versus casual sex because it seems that a lot of people lean toward one or the other as a "right" sort of choice. Is relationship sex (or rather, sex in which emotional or romantic attraction is involved) better for you than casual sex? Is it more healthy, more respectful, better for your emotional, sexual, and romantic life?

There are many arguments against casual sex, one of them being that the aspect of 'love' is not in the act. Many believe that if there is no emotional connection with the person one is having sex with, then the act is immoral or at least less valuable than sex done with emotional or romantic attachment. That concept comes from the assumption that purely lustful sex done only for pleasure and not for some biological, evolutionary, or emotional motive is wrong. From a strictly pro/con stance, I can understand where those people are coming from. Having sex with your boyfriend(s) or girlfriend(s) can be extremely fulfilling on multiple levels, if you have good sexual and emotional relationships with each other. On the other hand, casual sex is fulfilling only in a sexual way because the emotional or romantic feelings are not intended to be there. Though the casual sex may be more enjoyable than the relationship sex, the other fulfilling requirements are enough to make the bad sex seem like a moot point.

Yet another argument against casual sex is that there is no such thing as friends with benefits, fuck buddies, or even a "successful" one-night stand that ends in having fun and then forgetting completely about that person, not regretting the decision to not keep in touch with that person at all. Because of that, casual sex cannot possibly be an option, because sooner or later you will fall in love with your friend with benefits or you'll regret your one-night stand. In addition, the mentality of "using" someone for sexual purposes may lower one's self-worth, whereas if one was in a relationship, that self-worth would be increased.

Both of these arguments against casual sex are wrong because they're blanket arguments that include everybody. Someone may not have good experiences with it because of emotional issues but someone who is not looking for a relationship, is not looking for a romantic connection, would do very well in a casual sex situation. To assume that a person is going to react a certain way without knowing them at all is not just extremely rude, it's wrong. Not everyone develops feelings after one-night stands, not everyone falls in love with their fuck buddy, and not everyone has fulfilling relationship sex. In fact, relationship sex can be as "unhealthy" for you as casual sex--for example, one could be in an abusive or unsatisfying relationship and he could justify his staying in it because of the sex. Staying in a relationship when you don't really want to is a sure-fire way of lowering your self-respect rather than having sex with someone who not only satisfies your sexual desires but also doesn't let you down on an emotional level.

Relationship sex is not necessarily "better" for you. It could be worse for you. Obviously, it has to do with what you want at the moment and what your desires for sexual, emotional, and romantic connection are. If you don't want to be in a relationship but you want to have sex, then you'll have a satisfying experience, provided the person you're having it with isn't horrible in bed. If you want to be in a relationship, be in a relationship. If you don't want to have sex, then don't. What's best for you is doing what you want and taking it from there. And finally, a quote that I find very fitting and extremely well articulated from the amazing Greta Christina:

Sometimes sex is just sex: pleasurable, delightful, orgasmic, and just plain old good clean dirty fun. And that’s wonderful. That, just by itself, is entirely worthwhile and valuable. Being disappointed in yourself and in each other when sex isn’t an intense intimate connection . . . that’s an almost ironclad guarantee that the intense intimate connection isn’t going to happen. Being willing to enjoy the pure, animal pleasures of sex — and being willing to share that pleasure and experience it together — is one of the ways we can make ourselves ready for those moments of intense connection to sneak up on us without warning.