Tomorrow

I thought I’d figured it all out. I thought I had made the perfect plan. Sure I was struggling but that’s just life. And then I wasn’t in law school anymore. And everything shattered and fell apart. Tomorrow didn’t seem certain anymore. Tomorrow seemed like a vague idea amongst the shards of ruined glass on the floor.

Now I’m sitting in a room with floor to ceiling windows looking at the calm amongst the bustle of the city, and I wonder if life is just a series of metaphors strung together like pearls on a necklace.

As of two weeks ago, I am no longer a law student. Instead I am free-falling through my own feelings, emotions, through the turbulence that growing up has to offer so I can figure out what comes next.

In the past two weeks, I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to be ok with the concept of different plans for tomorrow. Figuring out what to do next and how to move forward when you just simply cannot see through the war fog of today. Inevitably, however, the fog clears, and you are left with clarity or at least the hopes of it.

I know what happens tomorrow. In the metaphorical sense. I will apply to graduate school and I will be ok. Tomorrow has come into sharper focus as I realise that sometimes life happens against your will, and that means that you have to readjust.

Readjusting the plan can be painful. It is hard to process, to make sense of it and to move forward with your head held high when you just feel like crumpling yourself up into a corner and not moving again.

I came here to write this because I felt like I just needed to say it here. But the truth is, I’m not really ready to talk about it. I don’t really have any profound wisdom to share except that going through it is better than trying to go around it.

— Liora

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To Forgive Yourself.

Forgive yourself for not being able to do the things you wanted to do. My friend said this to me and her words have been stuck in my head since. Because it’s true. So many negative feelings and internalisations are due to a lack of forgiveness that we are able to extend ourselves.

We talk of self care and self love but I think that the root of so much of that conversation is left unacknowledged. That to take care of yourself or to love yourself often requires this crucial first step… to forgive yourself.

And that can mean so many different things. But is so crucial to healing.

So here I am, writing to your inner child, or yourself as you stand now, reminding you to forgive yourself. As my friend reminded me.

Forgive yourself for not being able to do the job you thought you could do. Forgive yourself for the resentment that you hold and the internal self hatred that has coloured so much of your experience. Forgive yourself for not having provided the protection or safety you needed. Or for not getting the grades you wanted.

We do the best we can with the tools we have. And I’ll say it again because it bears repeating: we do the best we can with the tools we have.

Self forgiveness doesn’t look the same for everyone. It can be a release of tension, a letting go, a moving forward, a quiet understanding that things how they were, did not serve you in the way that you needed. And that’s ok.

Forgive yourself for not being the person who you think you should be. Or achieving what you arbitrarily decided you should. Or have done whatever it is you have been conditioned to believe that you should have. Forgive yourself because you are worth so much more than any of it.

You deserve peace. You deserve grace.

I have tears in my eyes as a write this because I don’t think most people really ever tell you that. Until it’s too late and you’ve worked yourself too hard. So here. You deserve peace and you deserve grace.

You deserve to recognise how much you have achieved, how far you have come, how proud you should be of who you are. You don’t have to have ‘achieved’ in the arbitrary sense to be proud.

I have so many thoughts and things to say on this topic. But the truth is, the thing I just want to say over and over is that you deserve the peace that comes with forgiving yourself for things that you cannot control. Things that happened that are now in the past. That you deserve the grace that you know you would give to anyone else. That you did the best with the tools you had. And sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough and that’s a really depressing, exhausting feeling.

But eventually you will come to see that in forgiving yourself you have let go of so many expectations that never belonged to you in the first place. And that in itself is freedom from so much.

You deserve peace. And self forgiveness. And grace.

— Liora

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In A Crowded Room

A lot of times I write things here that I wish someone would have said to me. I imagine whoever is reading this to be going through something and just needs any indicator that it will be ok. That their experiences and feelings are real and valid and that they are not alone. This is a hard post for me to write because it touches on a very raw nerve, but it is also a meaningful post, because I know that my experience is not solitary. So if there is one thing you get from this post, it’s that I hope you know you aren’t alone.

t/w eating disorders/ disordered eating

I don’t know how old I was the first time that I went to a weight watchers meeting. I was probably around eleven or twelve. I walked in and saw a roomful of women, veterans of dieting culture, waiting in line to be weighed and to have their weight marked down. When it was my turn I remember that I started sweating. I already had enough idea of what it was like to be considered ‘fat’ in the world, I knew that I was supposed to be ashamed.

I don’t even think I knew what I was supposed to be ashamed of. I could do everything else my friends could do. I did gymnastics, and I was good at it. I did trampoline, and was great at that too. I played football and cricket and was just as intelligent and kind as everyone else. But I was also considered fat. It wasn’t always said but it was always implied. And that implication stuck to me like a second skin and cast a shadow over a lot of my experiences.

Looking back now, that first weight watchers meeting further entrenched beliefs that I had about myself, that I had heard other people say about me or themselves. That I had grown up with on my mother’s milk. Sunday mornings were reserved for weight watchers meetings. And sometimes weekday slimming world meetings depending on the time of my life. But it was always the same kind of experience, the same kind of shame. Celebrating every pound that came off, and admonishing every pound that went on.

Weight loss and gain was the scale that all my achievements and failures were measured in. By me, but also by everyone else around me. I was born into diet culture, and diet culture is where I have spent most of my time. It is how I have developed my self-image. It is the way I believe things about myself. It is the cloud of shame that comes with me wherever I go.

It is the voice in my head, the constant presence telling me that I will never be enough until I weigh and look the way I am ‘supposed to’. It is the belief founded on empirical evidence that people would rather that you have an eating disorder and loose weight, then stay as you are. And I do not say that lightly. But all of these things leave you feeling extremely alone in a crowded room.

It is the dread of hearing someone utter a comment or joke at my expense. The paralyzing and devastating fear that I may accidentally overhear someone say something about my weight. The shame of not fitting into clothing that you picked out, or not being able to fit somewhere. Or the fear that you won’t be able to fit somewhere that makes you too anxious to even try.

When you grow up in a world where every single food and drink is assigned a moral value, ‘good foods’ and ‘sins’, foods that you can have an unlimited supply of and foods you must measure, or restrict, you grow up with a distorted view about food in general and how it relates to you. If you are always told that you would look or be better if you just lost 10 lbs, no matter how much love and concern is behind those comments, these things add up and chip away at your soul.

I don’t think I know of a single person who hasn’t felt those feelings. Of shame, disgust, anger. Of despair at trying desperately to look different, appear different, weigh different. And a lot of that is inter-generational trauma, and a lot of that is societal beliefs that are perpetuated by diet culture and the toxic grip it has. But eventually, if you grow up genuinely fearing a scale, fearing what others might think of you or of how you look, of constantly overcompensating for fear of social or familial rejection, your weight and your relationship with food becomes everything.

I am at a mid-point in this journey. I do not subscribe to toxic diet culture, I know what it has done to me and I have seen what it has done to my friends. I have watched friends suffer with eating disorders for years, I have refused to accept that I have too. I hold objective truths about diet culture, and about how we should celebrate our bodies, recognize that the number on a scale and the number in your clothes is arbitrary. But I am still figuring out how to reconcile that with how I feel about myself.

These things do not just heal themselves overnight, so I am here now, trying to heal. Working through years and years of looks and comments and trauma associated with weight and food and self esteem. Because we are cycle breakers. World shakers. How it was, is absolutely no indication of how it will always be if that is your will. And while you may read this and think it is easier said than done, believe me I know that isn’t true.

But we break cycles and change the narrative because I will not subject anyone else to the crippling low self-esteem and hatred I hold for my body. I will not participate in fueling the deeply toxic and unhealthy beliefs that people have about food, about weight, about their bodies. Or my own.

I know how it is to stand in a room and be painfully self conscious about how you look or how you feel. How you believe you are being perceived. I know how it is to go to a doctor’s office and be dismissed because you are overweight, when you know that there is something wrong. Something unconnected to weight, that needs urgent medical attention. And I know how to feels to be embarrassed, humiliated, to grow up being told that your only goal should be to lose the weight. The shame. The feelings of inadequacy.

And yet, I write this post because I know all of it, and I still think that we can make things different. Every single day I wake up and try to change the tide. Because we deserve better. I deserve better. Because all bodies and good bodies. And your worth should never have been dependent on what you weight.

I deserve better than to be constantly burdened with the feeling of shame, to be constantly feeling like I deserve less, need to shrink myself in order to fit in. You are so much more than the sum of your parts. You are so much more than any one thing about you, so much more interesting and accomplished and kind and caring and loving and intelligent.

So when you feel alone in a crowded room, if you feel like no one feels the way that you do, if you feel or have ever felt inadequate or shame based on the number of a scale or what you have been led to believe about yourself, I am here, reminding you that its not true. That you are not alone, and you are perfect and deserve to shed the shame and learn to really believe it.

And please, reach out for help and resources if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating.

— Liora

Http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

http://www.anad.org/ANAD

http://www.iaedp.com

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We are tired.

We are tired, tired of being on trial, tired of being told how to use our bodies, tired of waiting for a group of predominantly white men to make decisions regarding our lives. Our rights and our freedoms, our bodies, our God given autonomy being stripped by a majority vote of the Supreme Court because people claiming to speak for the people are determined to take the voices of women and make them disappear.

My stomach lurched when I read the news last night, and yet, I wasn’t surprised. It is a trend that I have seen coming for a few years. The Supreme Court votes to strike down Roe v. Wade in majority decision by the court written in February. While it is not the final decision, it is a very strong indicator that the Supreme Court intends to strike down the foundational precedent set by the court in Roe.

Roe v. Wade (1973), is a landmark decision made by the Supreme Court that granted women’s right to choose. Months ago, I wrote a blog concerning the slippery slope that we were on in the United States, starting with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, well starting with the election on Donald Trump into office… or starting with the fundamental lack of civil rights in this country for anyone who is not a white male since the founding fathers sought to protect the life, liberty and property of some men, not all men, and certainly no women, despite what the constitution may say.

So as I write this, part of me is full of rage, glorious, unfiltered rage at the war on women that has forced us with our backs to the wall to take to the streets and rally until our voices are hoarse and our feet are numb because people in government decided that women no longer get to choose.

And the rest of me, well the rest of me is just exhausted. Exhausted by the endless and relentless need to keep on fighting and fighting to make sure that we don’t go backwards. Progress is made and forged by the people before us who lost their lives, their dignity and their minds to fighting for even the tiniest piece of progress. And yet, despite the progress we have made, the march we have walked, we are now facing the reality of being stripped of our right to choose.

Roe v. Wade (1973) has stood for so much. It stood for women’s right to choose, women’s right to bodily autonomy, women’s rights in general. The Supreme Court reversing this judgement will immediately make abortion illegal in 22 states and set a dangerous precedent. And let us not forget that this will not end abortion, but it will end safe abortion. In a country with a huge maternal mortality rate, with limited access to health care and an ever-growing hostile attitude towards women and and female autonomy, a ban on abortion means more women will die at the hands of back-room abortions, and that the pro-life bullshit banner that anti-abortion supporters rally is more and more of an oxymoron.

This ban impacts the decision of women everywhere. Women who have been sexually assaulted, raped, are pregnant against their will; women who are carrying an unviable pregnancy or women who just simply have made a decision and have made a choice based on what they need.

Crucially, the court has made it clear that this is not a one time deal. That other landmark human rights cases such as Obergefell, which granted the right to same sex marriage, are at risk too.

This is not theoretical. This is not a what if simulation. This is a real time disintegration of our rights. Of our autonomy. Of our freedom to live and love and protect our health and happiness. Of our freedom to choose.

And all the while sexual assault cases are climbing, men are repeatedly making decisions for women and our bodies, exerting control and giving us more and more reason to be afraid. So when I say we are tired, what I mean is that we are tired from having to constantly push against boundaries that are being imposed on us by those who have absolutely no right to do so.

We are tired. We are tired because we know that we cannot afford to stop fighting. We are tired because even though the landmark civil rights cases promised a better and brighter tomorrow, a tomorrow where we didn’t have to fight so that we could choose, that promise was false. Because we are still fighting and fighting and being told again and again that our bodies do not belong to us. That our choices will be dictated by the majority rule of a court who has at least two justices who promised to reverse Roe before they were nominated and after.

We are tired and we are afraid and yet despite this, we will keep on fighting. Because we don’t have any other choice. Because it is not just the theory behind these cases that are at risk. But our individual and collective freedoms that are at the cornerstone of any democratic country. The right to choose is part of what separates humans from animals. You may not personally believe in abortion, you may have religious or moral objections. But understand this, the reversal of Roe affects you too. It means that even with religious exemptions, you will not be able to get an abortion.

You may think that you are not personally be impacted by these decisions. But that isn’t true. Because it will not stop here. The slow revoking of our rights will keep going. Until we are sliding at an unstoppable pace back 50, 60, 100, 200 years.

So if you take anything from this post, it is that we may be tired, but we will keep fighting and so should you. Educate yourself, learn and read and listen to people’s experiences. And speak up, rally, donate your money, time, energy, fight with us. Fight for us, to help us.

— Liora

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A week of many months

I’m always thinking about what I want to write on my blog. The message I want to send, the advice I want to give or the story I want to tell. But some weeks there just isn’t much to say. Or at least, not enough that it makes it to a post all on its own. This was not one of those weeks though.

I have been relatively honest about how grueling I have found my 1L year. It is a general feeling amongst all my law school friends and in the practice of law overall, that your first year of law school is designed to pick out the weak, to challenge you in ways that you didn’t think possible, and to make you rethink everything.

This past week I decided that I was going to drop out of law school. My physical and mental health have been suffering too much, and it had just been one too many doctors appointments where my doctors had told me that the stress is killing me. I had been feeling pretty miserable for a while, and when I gave the thought of dropping out some leverage, I felt a huge amount of relief. So I told my parents, I told administration, I told my friends, I had made the decision that I was going to leave. I was leaving so I could find a job, and prioritize my mental and physical health.

My week was mostly me crying and then crying some more, trying to piece together the facts and distinguish them from the feelings. Trying to recognize objective truth from subjective panic and thoughts is hard enough as it is, but doing it while you are making major life decisions and completely overwhelmed and can barely see through your tears is a whole other thing.

The thought of not having to do my pending assignments was thrilling, the thought of just giving it up and focusing on myself felt challenging but exciting. And I sat with that feeling, that decision for a few days. One of the first things they tell you in law school orientation, is that stress management is the key. And when I was told that, I smiled and thought about how much stress I feel, and how unlikely it was that some basic stress management techniques like deep breathing were going to do the trick. I was both right and wrong by the way. (In that, breathing techniques have helped me massively, but it is going to take more than that for me to calm my stress).

I felt exhilarated from the thought of not going back, and I swung between that elation and then the despair, the crippling fear of failure and inadequacy that came with the belief that I was ‘dropping out’. For the record, all of the things I felt, were my own. Not one single person tried to talk me out of it, or frowned upon my decision. In fact, it felt like everyone in my life took a collective sigh of relief when I explained my reasoning and that I was going to take time out to force myself to learn how to manage my stress, and understandably so.

And then I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep on Friday night, and I felt more clarity than I had felt the whole week. I listened to myself and thought everything through, and realized that the thing that needed to change, wasn’t necessarily me dropping out of school, it was the way I manage my life and the absence of any attempt to manage my stress or do anything self-care related.

I always believed that I thrived off of stress (and I still kind of do). Life is full of stress, and our bodies and brains are built to withstand it. We are naturally resilient. But there are so many studies that show the long-term damage and impact of prolonged stress, of stress that goes beyond the boundaries and threshold of normal human experience. I can say with certainty that I do not thrive off of stress. The adrenaline that high amounts of stress make me feel are where I feel best, but the higher you climb the harder you fall and it is not sustainable to live like that.

This past week, as chaotic and dramatic as it was, taught me what I needed to know, more than I realized. When I decided to drop out of school, it forced me to confront by own beliefs about my worth and how deeply connected they are to my academic ability and success. I have by no means worked through that, but the reason I am being so candid is because I know that I am not the only person in the world who thinks or feels like I do, whatever the situation. It also forced me to realize that what I am currently doing is not working. Not in any way, shape or form.

Because no matter the ultimate decision regarding school is, it doesn’t change the fact that I was right. I do need to stop, I do need to cultivate better habits, and work really hard on looking after myself, even when that feels like more work than law school is. It doesn’t come naturally to me, so I really have to work at it. And that’s scary. Because for me, school, no matter how hard it is, feels like an attainable goal. But figuring out how to look after myself doesn’t feel like that.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that listening to yourself, your body, your intuition is so important. I am a strong believer in gut feelings, I believe that we know in ourselves what is right for us, whether we choose to listen to it or not. And my gut told me something was wrong, and had been for some time. But I chose not to listen to it because I didn’t like what it had to say.

I am not going to drop out of school, not because I’m too scared or believe that it would say something negative about me, but because in my set of circumstances it is something that I want to continue pursuing.

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t not do things. You should. Listening yourself and not breaking yourself is critical. In the rat race of life, they don’t traditionally teach us that. They teach us to work hard so we can play hard. But in reality, thats not how it goes. You work hard, and then collapse from exhaustion because it’s just too much. You don’t get to play hard because you’re too busy trying to recover from the hard work, so that you can work some more. Such is the experience of the majority. Not to sound like a marxist. But for the most part, that is the truth.

My point being, that if you don’t carve out time to care for yourself, you might not to do it. You might, like me, spend two weeks in the middle of your semester unable to move from exhaustion, and re-evaluating all your life decisions only to realize that your mistake was not in choosing this path, but in choosing to ignore what your brain, body and doctors have been screaming at you.

This past week was a week of many months because it was such a long time coming. Don’t be afraid to stop what you’re doing and reevaluate. There is no such thing as one path, and when you are doing what is best for you, there is no such thing as the wrong path either.

Take a breath.

— Liora

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