Lonely and Alone

This one is tough guys. This one is hard to write. Last week, much to my amazement, I heard myself saying, “I’ve changed this year. I feel much lighter.” It was strange but I’ve never thought much beyond the changes that I had felt in my gut needed to be made. Neither did I examine the emotional reasoning behind logical actions such as leaving my former church. I guess you could say that in that moment, examining the situation too closely would have revealed truths I was in no way ready to handle. It was time for a self-discovery.

As I thought back on last year, I could clearly hear myself questioning the reason why I had so many people around me but only few realized I was stressed and unhappy. A lot were quite happy to add more drama to my plate. I looked deeper and realized that at that moment in my life, unhappiness was too mild a word, I was depressed.

Acknowledging depression is a hard pill to swallow because when you generally think of depression, the image of the girl with the bright aura and smile doesn’t readily come to mind. Instead, we generally visualize the emos, dressed in black, sullen, and looking for all the world to see “depressed”.

I remember a few years ago, I saw the story of a young woman who was dead in her apartment for two entire years before any noticed. I remember thinking, “How could that situation have happened? Didn’t she have friends, family, neighbors, etc.” I am afraid of getting there. Dying and no one noticing. At the time, I thought to myself, that could never happen to me. I have way too many people around me.

Yet, last year, I remember sitting down in church and on the choir, and wondering how could I be surrounded by so many people and still feel so alone. Aren’t these the same people who hugged me on a Sunday and called me “daughter”? Why did I feel so alone?

Why was my phone full of church contacts who, for the most part, only called or messaged me when they needed something? Why these numerous contacts only seemed interested in the wide white smile but none took the time to look beyond and see the sadness in my eyes? These were the persons I prayed with. These were the persons I sang on the choir with. These were the persons I joker around with. These were the persons I spent a large percentage of my free time with. These were the persons I thought of as friends yet when I needed, no one knew me enough to see.

Where were all my friends? Why didn’t my family notice something was off about me?

Honestly, I felt betrayed by God too. Where was He when I was internally screaming loudly? Begging Him for a physical sign that He had heard my cry? Begging Him for someone to speak directly to me, to my feeling during one of the Sunday messages. Where was He? Why didn’t he give me the sign I needed?

I can remember thinking to myself, “So many people but only a handful.” It was amazing that despite me knowing so many persons, only a few thought to check if I was okay when I went MIA. Even fewer thought to push deeper when I gave my regular “I’m okay” to the general polite question, “How are you?”

A part of me recognized that I wasn’t needed. I didn’t want to be in such an environment where everybody looked but few really saw. I recognized I couldn’t stay. My mitigation action was simple. I let go of my “BIG” church and a lot of acquaintances. I chose a smaller church and began focusing my energies on building strong relationships with the few friends who have shown themselves as being worthy of the title. I gave myself the permission to be free of the things I didn’t believe in at heart and focused on ensuring my emotional health. Eventually, I felt lighter.

In retrospect, I wondered how I got to the point of being depressed and yet no one or myself seemed to notice. The answer hit me. I was always the one who could fix it. Most of my acquaintances believed that I always had it together. I didn’t need help, instead, I was the one capable and always willing to offer the assistance. It just didn’t cross their minds that maybe I needed help of a different nature.

Guys, I hope my blubbering makes sense. I want to call you to action. I came close but I escaped from the clutches of depression. Don’t be one of the persons who looks but do not see. Care enough to stop and take the time to see beneath the surface. Care enough to ask deeper questions.

XOXO,
Chañel.

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Dating Outside the Box

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If you have been following my blog, you should be aware of the yearlong dating challenge I undertook last year March as a form of breaking my three-year dating sabbatical and stepping out and putting myself out there again. This challenge was an immense success and resulted in stories like the ones described in Dating the Dozen and the internal tumult of My Perfect Mistake.

“Did the experience make me better?”, many asked. Yes. It taught me the importance of knowing who you are and what you have to offer as an individual and to not be swayed by the thoughts and perception of others, even if it means walking way from someone who came to mean a lot to you. This experience taught me to walk away from situations that made me feel less than who I am. Most of it, it taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and to laugh, have fun and enjoy the companionship of others, if only for a moment. There is no crime in budgeting time for FUN!

Now, a year of dating equivalents to A LOT of dates! We certainly won’t get into numbers…

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There are two things that persons who have been following my progress want to know:

  1. Where do I find the guys?
  2. What do I do for my dates?

We will leave #1 for another time but I must answer #2 because the follow-up question to that normally focused on whether or not my dates and I went to get drinks or a meal. Well folks, anyone who knows me knows that I am not a foodie. A lot of food gives me anxiety issues if I don’t have help…. so… if my dates were just based on eating, I would have a problem.

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So, here you go! 12 fun activities that I have done in the name of dates:

  1. An evening out Painting and Sipping – This activity gives you and your date a chance to have a bit of relaxing competitive fun. Plus, paint, brushes, bad artists, cheap wine and good company is a good combination to spark a little chemistry and give an evening to remember.Image result for paint and sip gif
  2. Go picnicking in the park – A picnic has been on my bucket list of date ideas for like…forever! Can you imagine my excitement when that wish was fulfilled? Throw in a movie as dusk approaches and chocolate and you will have what can only be described as perfection. If you are not a fan of movies, put on some low music and talk/dance…
  3. Do karaoke together – I don’t recommend doing karaoke with someone who is a stiff-shirt especially if he can’t sing or take a little good-natured ribbing. Karaoke, good company and drinks are a great way to have a very memorable night.Image result for karaoke gif
  4. Shopping for ingredients and then cooking a meal together – I never thought going to the market and supermarket could be fun until I made a date of it. It took it back to caveman days of foraging for food to make a meal. Once the foraging is over, you and your date get a chance to do accomplish something together. Who knows, if you are lucky you might just end up doing a food fight.
  5. Going hiking – If you are a person who loves nature, this is perfect for you. There are a lot of wonderful spots to go hiking. Personally, I prefer afternoons because it is cooler and that also gives me the opportunity to see the sun set.
  6. Doing a 5K together – There is nothing like bonding while running/walking for a cause. and joking about dying during the process. While I did a 5K, you and your date can spend an afternoon volunteering for a cause that you are both passionate about.Image result for 5k gif
  7. Going for a walk and exploring a spot you are both interested in – Throw in some Jackie back, good company and laughter and have yourself a marvelous time
  8. Building a playlist together – If you are both music lovers (I am average), a great date is to have a music face-off that results an a playlist. It’s fun when you are trying to up the song your partner just played, especially if you both like music from different eras. This becomes a great keepsake….well if the date goes well.
  9. Going to a fair/theme park – If you have a big inner child, like me, going to a fair or theme park is a definite “MUST”! Try every ride, every slide and every attraction possible! Do not stop until you are done!
  10. Taking a dancing class – This experience was the one I found the most uncomfortable because I am not much of a dancer. However, taking a salsa class is something else when you have relaxed and become engaged with laughing and dramatizing every body bumps and toe steps! I can honestly declare that in the end, my beginning discomfort was worth it! One of the best dates ever! Bad moves and all!Image result for bad salsa dancing gif
  11. Going to a concert – Personally, I don’t like concerts that have too big an audience of sweaty people who are all up in my space. But there is something to be said about bonding while grinning ridiculously and screaming the lyrics of some of your favorite songs. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it… My personal favorite happens to be any concert that has a steel band. I have a ridiculous partiality to steel bands :).
  12. Having the person teach you something they like to do or via versus – like how to play pool… I totally never realized how fun learning during a date could be.

You should have noticed by now that I have not mentioned “Netflix and Chill” or some of the common date outlets such as going to watch a movie. The point is, there are many creative date outlets. Get dolled-up or dolled-down, put out your best personality and go out with the intent to have fun. A date is what you make it.

Do you agree? What are some of your favorite date ideas?

XOXO,
Chañel.