Story shared via Healthline.
Story shared via Healthline.
I was thinking, and you know what I miss about blogging? Simple lists without ten years of backstory. Right? Yes? No? Is it just me? Can we all get on board that maybe not every post of mine should be a novel? Cool? Because I already have books. So. Maybe lets try to keep these things shorter? Yes? Really? Sweet. OK COOL. SO glad you’re on board!
I’m excited to share 5 Healthy Things with you that are currently changing my life. Ready? Here goes:
I absolutely LOVE this little tool for an at-home facial massage and lymphatic drainage. Here’s why facial massage is so important:
-Stimulates collagen production
-Helps TMJ and other muscle-related jaw injuries and pain
-Keeps skin clear
Simply use this tool once or twice a day for 15-60 minutes and watch your skin transform. Mine always gets an instant glow and lift!
… seriously, if you don’t have this in your life yet, GET ON IT. I put this on everything – avocados, eggs, bagels, dinner, salads. I’ve yet to try it on a hot fudge sundae, but hey, you never know…
My favorite beauty hack is combining stellar skincare items into multi-purpose combos! My newest regiment that uses this ritual is to combine Genetix Cellular Recovery Serum with organic probiotics. The combination of ingredients works to tackle fine lines and heal trouble spots, as well as makes an incredible exfoliator if you want to do an oil cleanse.
Your skin will thank you!
Books That Blow Your Mind
I’ve been reading about 5-10 books a month now-a-days, which has always been the goal. I got really good at speed reading while proofing my new book these last few months (it’s out on May 8th, YAAAY!), and now I can easily devour about a book a day. Some of my favorites that have blown my mind the last few weeks (and ones I’ve re-read that I already love) are:
-A Wrinkle in Time (this was one of my very favorite books as a kid!)
If you follow my instagram (specifically, if you catch my stories), you know I’ve been traveling a LOT lately. And so honestly, the most simple pleasures for me now-a-days are the times where I just get to be out in nature with my dogs. There’s nothing like it. If you haven’t had a chance to step outside today, I want to remind you to do it. Even if it’s cold. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Even if it seems impossible. Do it. Bundle up or put on your running shoes or encourage your significant other to push you out the door. I guarantee you your entire day will be different. It’s so healthy for your mind as well as your body. It boosts your immune system, lowers your blood pressure… and oh yeah – it’s beautiful.
Pick up my book, Cured by Nature, to learn more about how nature can heal you.
Liked this post? You’ll love How To Be Inspired to Stay Healthy (No Matter What!) and My Health & Wellness Faves!
Hi, my name is Tara and I’m NOT an alcoholic (Hi Tara!)
Unlike most people who aren’t drinking now, this isn’t a Dry January thing. I quit in October, over three months ago now.
And the Why is a little complicated and odd, since it wasn’t having the normal effects on my health one might expect when most people decide to stop drinking.
We’ve all been told, by professionals even, that drinking alcohol in moderation is harmless. “Occasional drinking has been said to improve health,” is the mantra doctors love. Perhaps this even has some basis in fact. And I believed it. I had used wine to relax and beer to unwind. I had used alcohol based tinctures to combat anxiety. I had seen the proof.
Honestly, I haven’t touched hard alcohol in years. Liquor has never sat well with me and I highly doubt it ever will. I was very much a champagne and red wine kind of girl, with the occasional organic, light, gluten free beer thrown in during warm summer months.
A few months ago, though, something inside of me switched.
It was eye-opening.
It was crazy.
It was …. Weird.
Instead of getting buzzed when I had a glass of wine, I would just get increasingly more and more sleepy. Sometimes I’d end up with a wicked belly ache or a crushing migraine. NOT. The desired effects I was after. At all. I had spent years in withdrawal, fighting nausea and insomnia and blaring migraines. So, bringing those unpleasant effects upon myself seemed insane.
On top of this, I had straight up lost the ability to get drunk. My body had replaced that drunken feeling with a general and severe physical unpleasantness.
Of course, instead of accepting this right away, I challenged it. After so many years fighting to be able to eat and drink what I wanted to, I thought I deserved to drink. I justified it.
MAYBE if I drink a ton of water before I drink alcohol, it won’t happen (nope).
Maybe if I drink a different kind of alcohol it won’t happen (nope).
Maybe if I drink alcohol without gluten or sulfites it won’t happen (nope nope nope).
Why I didn’t stop drinking right then and there, when this not-able-to-get-drunk-but-somehow-able-to-feel-sick phenomena started, will be a question I’ll ask myself for a while. Likely, I was still chasing the days I could get a nice little buzz on. I used to enjoy it. I am a silly, happy, even a creative drunk. I mean, hell – I’m an author. Isn’t this kind of our THING?
Whether I was fighting a bad tummy ache or I ended up getting super sleepy, I would almost always fall asleep after drinking. And when I woke up in the morning, I would almost always feel like total shit. Not EVERY time, but looking back, probably 70-80% of the time I drank, I regretted it in the morning.
I had to admit that if I wasn’t even getting buzzed anymore, alcohol had almost completely lost the effect that myself – that most people – are after when they drink. Instead, I found myself disappointed and a little confused.
Fuck, I found myself saying.
What the hell is wrong with me?
The bottom line was that alcohol didn’t make me feel good. Some other people can drink hard liquor and tolerate it; some can even manage to drink it and not feel like shit. Some people can enjoy one glass of wine and not get a headache. Some people can enjoy two beers and feel unaffected.
I am not one of them.
While I may not even have gotten buzzed, drinking alcohol did have the same effect on me just about every time I ingested it: in some form, during some part of that day (or the next), it always made me sick.
Mid-last year, these effects didn’t yet have a name, but I was waking up to them.
It turns out, I was becoming completely intolerant to alcohol.
Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. It can cause immediate, unpleasant reactions after you drink alcohol. The intolerance is genetic, and the only way to prevent alcohol intolerance reactions is to completely avoid alcohol.
I didn’t know this yet, but intuitively, I was already doing it.
I had been cutting down on drinking for a few months already.
A bottle of wine, which would normally be gone in a week, lasted about two months.
A bottle of champagne stayed unopened, but ready to pop, in my fridge for half a season, and then finally got put in the garage for “a special occasion.”
I started passing by the alcohol aisles when I went grocery shopping.
I started brewing myself sleepy time teas at night to get to bed, instead of taking out my wine glass.
I stopped ordering alcohol when I went out to eat.
I started replacing alcohol based tinctures with their non-alcoholic, capsule counterparts.
Slowly, but surely, alcohol was slowly fading from the daily habit to a truly occasional thing for me.
On October 3rd, 2017, I went out to a local spot to see my friend’s band play.
I drank one glass of wine and felt okay for a little while; better than normal. I was super into the music, grooving, having a wonderful time. Then, it hit me.
One minute I was fine, the next it was like college haze week. Within a few seconds, I felt AWFUL. Like I had downed three bottles of wine and someone had spun me around 150 times. I felt like I was nineteen and just tried my first few sips of gin. I couldn’t ever remember feeling so, SO bad. Not in a long time.
I came home and threw up for sixteen hours straight. That night – ALL night – and well into the next day.
Two days later, when I could finally get up, drink water, keep down food and think, I had to admit to myself that I knew something was seriously wrong. I hadn’t drunk a drop of alcohol in weeks, and when I took just a few little sips of wine, I was sick for DAYS.
I remember the exact moment that I decided to quit, probably because I’ve told myself that this was “the last time” SOOOO many times after drinking and feeling nauseous or hungover. And this truly was.
This time felt different.
I couldn’t deny it anymore. Alcohol was definitely the culprit. My body hated the stuff, and it was telling me loud and clear. If I wanted to live a normal life, I had to quit drinking. Completely.
Since admitting it, I’ve honestly never looked back, thought twice or second guessed that decision. I know I’m intolerant. My body blared it to me, and the longer I’m off it, the more that fact truly sinks in.
I can’t say I’ve had even one craving. I know that sounds INSANE. Maybe my definition of craving is different from everyone else’s, but truly, I have not thought about alcohol in a wistful way at all. When I see other people drinking, I do not wish I could be drinking. I have not even ALMOST ordered alcohol when I’m out. None of it. Call it a Pavlov complex, but thinking about alcohol still makes me sick to my stomach. Even taking alcohol based tinctures doesn’t agree with me anymore.
I did have dreams, though. Starting the first week I quit, I had dreams that I “forgot” I had quit and started drinking again, only to feel like shit. Okay… they were nightmares. I had NIGHTMARES about drinking. And I can safely say I’ve never had dreams about drinking before, never mind having nightmares about it. I’d always wake up so relieved that the frothy beer or shot I had downed was only a dream.
I think this was just my body’s way of reminding me how I’d feel if I decided to go back to it. The nightmares stopped around month 2, when I hadn’t touched a single drop and realized that this very likely was not going to be a temporary thing. There was no point to turning back now: I’d already come this far.
Maybe my body had finally accepted my timeline… although, honestly…I didn’t have a timeline. One day I stopped and then one day turned into one week. That week turned into one month, then two months… and now here we are, three months later!
Here are some serious benefits I’ve noticed in the last 3 months…
Alcohol has a sneaky way of increasing your daily calorie intake without you realizing it. One margarita may contain 300 calories or more—mostly from sugar! (ONE delicious piña colada might have 450 calories!!)
One study found men consume an additional 433 calories on those days they drink a “moderate” amount of alcohol. For women, it’s 300 calories. Cut those from your diet—and don’t replace them with desserts—and you’ll start to lose weight without much effort. In my opinion, most people could not exercise and STILL lose weight if they simply stopped drinking.
Not that weight loss was ever my issue, but I’ve definitely found myself more easily able to get – and stay – trim and put on healthy muscle mass (like abs!) when I work out. I also have cut out a LOT of sugar from my diet without having a glass of wine a few times a week, and I feel it. I’ve replaced sugar with fruit, which I will not only eat, but also drink in ice water as a replacement for alcoholic beverages.
Raspberries, grapefruit, sage, rosemary, lemon and limes are my favorite thing to add to my non-alcoholic drinks. I’ll slice, dice, muddle the fruit and herbs, add them to a glass of ice water or kombucha and I’m good to go. Delicious and you can mix and match for endless flavors!
Within a few days, I definitely noticed my skin looking and feeling more hydrated. Since then, bags under my eyes that plagued me for years have nearly completely disappeared. My skin is way more clear and now it truly glows from the inside, out – skin herbs or no skin herbs – to boost it!
That’s because alcohol was kiiiinda killing my skin game before. It’s a diuretic, which decreases the body’s production of the antidiuretic hormone that helps the body to reabsorb water. Your skin is the very last place water makes it to in your body, so less water in your body equals way more dehydrated skin.
Your skin will clear up in every way when you quit drinking. Ruddiness in your cheeks and around your nose may also start to fade when you drink less alcohol, and other skin conditions—such as dandruff, eczema, skin dullness, acne, puffiness, bags or rosacea—may also improve.
While I didn’t exactly have a fine wine or Blue Label habit, to assume that a bottle of wine every two weeks was not adding up, was to stick my head deep, deep into the sand. Drinking—whether you’re buying a 99 cent 40 oz or a 70 year old Merlot – is an expensive undertaking. Take a moment to crunch the numbers, adding up what you spend for drinks both at home and out on the town (factoring in tax and tip) and it will be an eye-opening—and sometimes life changing—moment.
I’ve saved a TON of money since I stopped drinking, and am already (three months later) well on my way to saving up for a VERY nice vacation. Knowing I’ll save money ON that vacation too by skipping the drinks is already making me double excited for the trip 😀
I didn’t realize how amazing never, ever, EVER having a hangover is. It’s literally the best feeling in the world. And a truly competitive edge you have in a world where most people started binge drinking at the tail end of 2016.
One recent study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found drinking before bed increases alpha wave patterns in the brain—a kind of cerebral activity that usually occurs when you’re awake but resting. The result? Disrupted sleep.
Another review of 27 studies found that while alcohol may help people fall asleep more quickly and deeply at first, it seriously screws with sleep quality after that initial restful period.
You may toss and turn a bit at first, but give up alcohol and the sleep you get will likely leave you feeling more refreshed and sharp the next day. The byproducts of better sleep: improved mood, concentration, and mental performance.
I’ve been getting much, MUCH better sleep. I’m able to wake up earlier too without the help of an alarm clock, and I find myself sleeping throughout the night better as well, instead of waking up 100 times.
Don’t let all the health events I attend and speak at fool you: there’s tons of alcohol at most of those things. In fact, I’ve hardly seen alcohol usage as pervasive as it is in the health community. Us healthy folks are, truthfully, lushy AF. We pride ourselves on our kombucha cocktails and organic mint mojitos. But is this really the best thing for our health?
The longer you go without drinking, the healthier and stronger your body becomes. (This is assuming you have no underlying health issues.)
I saw this in myself immediately.
In the last few months, I re-started my yoga practice, which I had pushed off until nighttime (and would often do with wine in my belly). I began doing my yoga flow again first thing in the morning, before taking the pups on their walk.
I’m inspired to go outside more in general, since I’m waking up earlier.
I’m drinking more water, eating better food and having more meaningful relationships and conversations with people that are not centered on or dependent on alcohol.
As an unexpected bonus, my business Is kicking ass because my head is WAY clearer. My memory has vastly improved. I’ve taken up some seriously good causes that I now have the time and energy for. And I’m sleeping SO much better. Stress-related anxiety has been much easier to control, an improvement I didn’t expect.
Quitting drinking has drastically improved my life. It’s seriously helped my self-esteem, because I’m able to be myself without the mask of drinking.
Honestly, if the fact that I haven’t taken a single solitary pharmaceutical drug for seven years is any indication to you, once I quit something, I rarely, if ever, change my mind. It’s not that I CAN’T go back. It wouldn’t ruin my life or be a relapse or put me in some dark place I can’t escape from.
But if I’ve quit something, even for a little while, it means I’ve recognized that (even if just in some small way), it’s hurting me. I’ve taken steps – sometimes many steps – in the right direction and for me, after putting in that hard work, it’s very difficult to turn around and start from square one.
The bottom line is that alcohol doesn’t make me feel good. Some other people can drink and not feel like shit. Some people can enjoy one glass of wine and not get a headache. Some people can enjoy two beers and feel unaffected.
I am not one of them. The feeling of self-control is better than any other feeling.
And I have a good reason not to start again: I can’t forget that aside from not getting me drunk, drinking alcohol made me sick.
The logic that now all of a sudden, it’s been some length of time and I won’t be intolerant to alcohol, is a naïve notion at best and harmful at worst. Alcohol is likely something I’ll have to avoid for life, and if that’s the case, it turns out I’m totally cool with it.
The ability to recognize that something is harming you is one of the most powerful gifts that we’ve been given.
I’ve learned that most people drink. And that’s okay, but it has zero bearing on what alcohol does to me.
I’ve learned to trust my intuition more and listen to my instincts.
I’ve learned that most social places – from restaurants to movie theaters to farmers markets – are steeped in a pervasive alcoholic culture. This, rather blatantly times, drives home the message that we “need to drink to loosen up”, to have fun and to be social with one another, which I believe can be super harmful in its credulousness.
I’ve learned that the streets of New York City, where I grew up (and visited for the first time totally sober in October), smells like stale beer on every block. Legit. Never. Noticed that before. I was too busy looking for the nearest bar.
I’ve learned that you don’t NEED to be an alcoholic to benefit from avoiding alcohol.
I’ve learned that alcohol’s negative impact on the body can include everything from inflammatory effects on your organs to potential damage to your DNA. Drinking in excess can also put you at risk for certain cancers, diabetes, and liver disease, among other grim conditions. Aside from the serious dangers of drinking too much, there are also a number of other not-so-pleasant effects, including lousy moods, crazy sugar cravings, excess calories, liver fat, poor sleep habits, dry skin, and foggy concentration.
I’ve learned that personally, I’d rather avoid them all.
I plan to do an update about this as I progress from 3 months to 6 months to 9 months, etc… or however long I end up sober for. So far, I’ve learned so much about myself and my body is so thankful I’m giving it a chance to relax and recover.
My only regret, so far, is that I didn’t start doing this sooner.
2017 was the year of the keto diet, with people googling ‘how long before ketosis?’ so they can know how fast their results will be! The year of mushrooms in everything and the year we all learned how to pronounce ‘matcha’ and ‘acai’. This seems like the year everything shifted: people were more focused on health than diets. Every state in the country declared war on the pharmaceutical industry. Yoga wasn’t just for the yogi’s anymore.
This coming year, the evolution continues. I firmly believe that this is the year that we wake up and realize that it’s our responsibility to care for Mother Earth, the year we pay attention to what we’re consuming – and why. 2018 is the year of the mission: the mission to improve. Between a collective consciousness awakening and the impact of our place as humans emerging, we’re bound to sprint headfirst in the direction of continued wellness.
Plus, we can indulge in some cool new products along the way!
Evolution is the ideal word for what 2018 promises. Here are some hot trends to look out for…
There’s already a ton of science based evidence that climate change is having a detrimental effect on our health. Between the natural disasters, regulation rollbacks and national monument upheavals, I believe 2018 is the year that we start paying attention to the planet. When I started my petition to save the endangered trees in San Diego in November, I kept hearing the same thing from everyone: “We need more of this.” And it’s true – we do.
We need more people who care, more people who are involved and more people who are passionate. I believe this will be the year that people realize they have no choice but to get involved. Without every day people standing up for the rights of the soil and the trees and the air, mega corporations think it’s okay to pollute, deforest and destroy our environment. No one is going to save the planet for you. You have to start the revolution. And only you can. I believe this is the year we all will.
I firmly believe brands will begin to jump on this trend too. Corporations like One Tree Planted are partnering with brands like Genetix to plant a tree for every order placed. I think it’s an incredible way to creative a massive, positive environmental impact. It also shows consumers what’s important to the brands and brand owners, which in and of itself is a massive commercial disruption.
Pick up these books in the new year to get started on your own planetary mission:
Daunted by the idea of taking 460496 supplements a day? Now, you don’t have to!
Powders are the newest way to get your vitamins in – and now, they taste DELICIOUS! A handful of awesome potion brands emerged on the market in 2017, and I foresee a lot more people jumping on board to this relaxing, delightful and delectable way to stay well! Healing spices can tackle everything from pain to bad skin, and there are endless ways to incorporate them into your diet. I mean, this one straight up tastes like hot chocolate.
You’ll be seeing some new ingredients pop up in your skincare and grocery aisles. Look out for Melatonin in your skincare, jackfruit at your fruit stand and cassava in your cupboard. They all have incredible anti-oxidant properties that soothe skin, aid digestion and reduce inflammation. They’re gluten free, dairy free and cassava is rich in fiber.
Women are finally taking back their hormones. I predict that 2018 is the year women start to question why they’ve chosen certain methods of birth control, and perhaps look for natural options to address many of the symptoms BC is prescribed for, such as acne, mood swings and PCOS. There are many supplements that support feminine estrogen balance, and I foresee estrogen-regulating (and breakout tackling!) DIM taking a big front seat this year, along with Fenugreek and Echinacea. Fenugreek helps with breast milk supply and lowers inflammation. Echinacea encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other illnesses, infections, and conditions as well as improves depression symptoms, heals skin and tackles inflammation.
People – women especially – are coming to realize that self-care is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.
I think this is the year people finally connect back to nature. Take that leisurely hike in the morning. Put the kids to bed early. Draw that bath – every night. I think this is the year people finally connect back to nature and dive deeper within. It doesn’t have to be a drastic lifestyle change – self-care is about practicing small rituals every single day that add up to an improved existence. There are also so many ways to practice it; from journaling every night to lighting your favorite candle and curling up with a good book, to doing a phone detox every morning – finding the time to connect with ourselves can – and should – be paramount in 2018.
Here are some books to get you inspired…
As more people than ever are cleaning up their food choices and asking “Wait, WHAT’S in this?!”—their pets’ plates are getting a makeover too.
I think the top 5 question I get asked in person is what I feed Raelie and Ruca. If you follow my Instagram stories, you may know that I make them dinner from scratch every night: organic meat, potatoes, veggies, carrots, chia seeds, healing oils and spices. And honestly – I’ve saved a lot of money this way! Yes, maybe my mouth waters when I make them their food… but they’re not complaining! Plus, I have the peace of mind knowing whats in it, and they tend to gobble it up in .5 seconds, so I’ll take that as a hell yes from them, too.
Don’t have the time to do this? That’s A-OK! Pet food brands are committing to high-quality kibble made from fresh, whole, and clean ingredients (no GMOs or grains for *your* fur-baby)—and even recipes that have been tested on humans.
Don’t forget to put oils (designed for cats and dogs) into your furry friend’s diet, too! This helps with joints, keeps coat shiny and increases energy and endurance.
Here are our favorites:
They’re called nootropics – and they’re on the rise. Nootropics – often called smartdrugs – have been circulating since the late 90’s by wellness guru’s like Dave Asprey (Bulletproof Coffee). Dave says, “I remember opening the unmarked brown package and wondering whether the pharmaceuticals and natural substances would really enhance my brain.
They did, and I’ve been a big fan of certain cognitive enhancers ever since.”
Dave’s favorite nootropic is modafinil. “When I first started taking modafinil,” Dave says, “I felt more like myself than I had in years. I took it just about every day in varying doses for 8 years (with a physician’s prescription). It gave me energy and changed my life. I would not be the biohacker I am today without modafinil.”
Always consult your doctor before incorporating supplements.
Here are our top natural, non-Rx brain-boosting helpers:
The natural beauty market is estimated to be valued at $24 Billion (that’s Billion with a capital B) by 2024, making it one of the fastest growing markets in the world – rivaling the tech boom!
Green beauty is finally getting its time in the spotlight, with giants like Target and Sephora finally jumping on the bandwagon. Companies are promising increased transparency, and people are finally waking up to the hot topics of ingredients in their skincare, deodorant, body wash, toothpaste and more. Folks were even learning that their fan favorite petroleum jelly, contains – you guessed it! – petroleum! YUCK!
Don’t wait to take control of your health! Beauty swaps are now affordable, effective and environmentally sound.
Here are some of my long-standing favorite green beauty swaps for commonly used products like face oil, vaseline and a gentle face scrub:
It’s as simple as that.
Still indulging in some extra size holiday portions? Trying to quit coffee? Need a body reboot? This detox drink is for you!
Why these ingredients?
Ashwagandha is a powerful whole system balancer and adaptogenic remedy. It has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to help alleviate stress, support physical and mental stamina, balance the immune system, support the nervous system, promote restful sleep, improve memory and support healthy adrenal function. It’s perfect if you’re trying to detox your diet or wean yourself off of coffee!
Ginger has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used as a digestive aid since ancient times.
Himalayan Pink Salt provides the body with essential minerals, balances electrolytes and pH, and supports optimal nutrient absorption.
Collagen is the protein that our body relies on to ensure the health and vitality of your skin, hair, tendon, cartilage, bones, and joints. Everything that connects our body, keeping skin tone and joints strong, needs collagen.
Our modern diets lack the collagen that was once abundant in foods. Without dietary collagen, our body can’t replenish what’s missing. This can have an effect on our hair, skin and nails, and joints, ligaments and tendons as we age.
Vital Proteins Vanilla Collagen Peptides are collagen molecules that are small enough to get quickly absorbed and used by our body. This bioavailability is the reason people see improvements in how they look, feel and move after using Vital Proteins Collagen consistently.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Have you ever had a situation that goes something like this: You meet someone and it feels like the stars align. Whether it’s a friendship or it turns romantic, it seems totally meant to be. They’re really nice and seem to be genuinely interested in you. They lavish you with attention and a true relationship begins to blossom. You feel really safe in that moment, which makes what happens next worse.
Down the road when you both have settled in comfortably, things start to change. The person who used to adore and worship you now fluctuates between needing you desperately and devaluing you. They are constantly angry and depressed. They consistently lift themselves up by putting others down. They’re often negative and hard to be around. Instead of engaging with you, they tend to make things about themselves. In fact, they may actually be prone to lies and exaggerations about themselves and others, as a way to make themselves feel better.
Maybe you had ignored some red flags at first, but it can’t be ignored now. When you are convinced that things are turning toxic, you call it off and explain that you’re moving on. However, instead of getting better, this individual’s behavior gets much, much worse!
Now, imagine that instead of going away, this person begins gaslighting you: a form of persistent manipulation meant to ultimately cause you to lose your own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth. A gaslighter’s statements and accusations are often based on calculated fiction. They begin by distorting facts, crafting deliberate falsehoods, making up character assassinations towards you, and aggressively asserting negative coercions about you to your friends, family and co-workers. You notice that they send you communication that tries to manipulate the truth by persistent distortion, with the clear intention of causing you, your family, your co-workers and your friends to question and feel less confident in your personality and your decisions.
Now, anything mean that they do to you, this person accuses you of doing to them. Not only are they lying, they are thriving off of the praise gained from being the victim in those lies. They replace factual information with false information. They personally message people who support you, threatening them if they continue to work with or be friends with you. This person begins to attempt to control your personal relationships, friendships and work relationships by constantly inserting themselves into them with made-up drama, lies and persistent manipulation aimed directly at you. They threaten your livelihood. Now we’re not talking being mean or annoying: we’re talking serious criminal harassment.
Now, imagine this goes on for 11 years!
Unfortunately, that’s been my everyday reality. I’ve been a victim of gaslighting for over a decade: since I was 20 years old.
If this situation sounds similar to something you have experienced, you may be or may have dated or been friends with a narcissistic gaslighter. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. The techniques used in “Gaslighting” by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operative, law enforcement and other forces for decades.
Since 2007, I’ve faced this harrowing reality from one person in particular, as well as their family and close friends. This gaslighting behavior towards me has now been going on for over a third of my life. Never one to want to feel like the victim, I have stayed silent about it publicly for all these years. But I was inspired to share my story with you today. As a woman, as a woman of color and as a woman with a public platform, I NEED to share my story with you today.
Many years ago, I took the drastic step to move across the country and get as far away from my gaslighter as possible. In retaliation, they moved across state lines, close to where I had lived (a classic form of stalking) and even reached out to people in my new town, as well as my old, befriending them to turn them against me. While I’ve chosen to completely ignore them, over many years my gaslighter has gone through great lengths to threaten me both personally and professionally, including making death threats to my life. I have done everything one does in this situation (and have outlined them all below so you have them handy), but after going on for over a decade, it’s never really stopped.
Remember that many of the people that are on the receiving end of rampant gaslighting are harassed each and every day, because their abuser is in pain each and every day, and takes their pain out on their intended victim with their manipulative behavior.
To the harassed, it’s not “a one time thing”, like some forms of cyber-bullying. It’s yet another example that a person will say terrible, untrue things to get their way – over a very long period of time. It’s one more scary email in your inbox, it’s another day you’re hearing false allegations, it’s another letter you’re forced to have sent from your lawyer, it’s another time that person is slinging slurs or death threats in your direction. So to speak up, we leave ourselves open to being attacked.
But how long should a person endure that kind of punishment simply for daring to exist?
In today’s society, articles like this are a long time coming, and I think my only mistake was not speaking out sooner, especially in a positive way.
When this happens to you, it’s frightening. You’ve done nothing to deserve it, and yet your gaslighter will come up with all kinds of reasons why they feel you do. That, alone, will drive anyone nuts. Too many times I felt like I had no where to turn: even movies or dateline-like episodes I had seen on the subject of gaslighting situations often didn’t compare to what I was facing on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis. And none of them ended well.
I’ve come to learn I’m not alone. I’ve come to learn that we think we know how we’d handle a situation like this, but often we have absolutely no idea. If you’ve been there, and frozen, I get it. While normally I am assertive, quick-witted and valiant about the truth, at times during my ordeal with this form of harassment, I have been so taken aback by how many manipulations are going on at once, that there were many years I wasn’t able to respond to it at all. When an attack happened – and they happened often – I would completely shut down.
I’ve come to learn that this is normal. In fact, wrapped in this culture of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, I think it’s hard for a lot of people to figure out how to react to this kind of reality; one that is rooted in lies. It’s head-spinning – and emotionally draining. Remember, the entire point of gaslighting is to throw so many lies, distortions and half-truths out at once that the victim (that’s you) becomes so confused that they are paralyzed. This is exactly what happened to me. If you find that it happens to you, it’s totally normal, so don’t worry. Most people have no past experience with this type of behavior, which has now become so prevalent in society.
It’s exhausting to fight a gaslighter, and when it goes on for so long, you become despondent that there will be any kind of support if you ever DO speak out. It’s easy for the public at large to dismiss cyber-stalking as “just trolling,” as “cat-fights,” as something clearly less dangerous than the “real thing”—even when perpetrators move to extort, dig up personal details and deluge victims with explicit threats. Hey, don’t feed the trolls, ladies! Calm down, that’s just the internet!
But it’s not “just” the internet. For a lot of us, the internet has become the primary mode of remote communication and our sole business platform. It threatens your emotional health. It fights your ability to practice self-care. It inhibits your ability to exist normally. This isn’t just the internet; it’s your life. And it’s not one or two people saying something snarky about you on the internet. These are malicious, untrue, systematic, hateful attacks from someone that the victims often knows or knew personally. This is real life.
The idea that threatening messages should somehow be less alarming, less dangerous, and less worthy of investigation than threatening phone calls or harassment in the workplace (when the internet is now most of our workplaces) undermines the magnitude of what online harassment truly does and what women, in particular, go through every single day – just to check their emails.
After a while you need to choose: am I going to spend my whole life defending myself against this person or will I speak out?
The term Gaslight comes from the Academy Award winning 1944 film by the same name, in which a man systematically sets out to drive his wife crazy by making her doubt the reality of her own perceptions. If you’ve ever dealt with a narcissist, there is a good chance you have experienced “Gaslighting” for yourself. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the one doing it tries to get power over his or her victim by making them think they are crazy, out of sorts and “off.”
The gaslighter lies to, manipulates and questions the other person and the people around them, mostly for control, but sometimes to hide or distract from something about themselves they don’t want others to discover. Even though individual situations might give manipulators different platforms on which to work, these are good examples of what gaslighting sounds and looks like:
Remember, their behavior is not about you.
Bullies are not just for the school playground and no matter their age, people who project hate are always struggling with inner battles of their own. When you are at peace, you feel no need to spread negativity. You don’t care what happened 5 years or even 5 minutes ago. When you’re genuinely happy, doing things you truly love, there is no room for negative thoughts or hateful feelings towards others. When you are struggling, you judge. When you are not struggling, life is positive, solution-based and soaked in love.
Never forget that when someone judges you, it isn’t actually about you at all. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs. People who are the most difficult to please are always the people least worth pleasing. They’re also the people that will never be happy no matter what you do. They create the least and risk nothing. Because they are focused solely on being the victim, they rarely give themselves a chance to bring anything of worth into the world.
If you have this horrific situation in your life, here is what you can do to help yourself and end the abuse. The techniques you use to combat harassment, bullying and gaslighting might need adjustment depending on the person and situation you’re dealing with, but these tactics are a good starting point:
If you need support because you are a victim of gaslighting, bullying or harassment, Bullies Reality is an amazing organization that supports victims. They work to educate kids and teens in schools and on social media providing help for those in need and at risk of suicide.
There is a strong link between bullying and suicide, as suggested by recent bullying-related suicides in the US and other countries. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10 to 34 year olds. Parents, teachers, and students learn the dangers of bullying and help students who may be at risk of committing suicide.
As you may know, I lost my best friend to suicide in 2011, so this cause is especially dear to my heart. Bullies Reality is 30 million people strong. They help teach families of the bullied child and the child who is bullying by offering effective solutions on how to respond to all forms of bullying and join the BR Family. They reached out to me and have been so supportive to me. Bullies Reality has been truly understanding of my ordeal, and so we wanted to partner to bring this larger message to you. You are not alone. Bullying and harassment happens and it’s NOT your fault. This amazing organization works with schools worldwide by creating new programs and policies for both the bully and the kids who are being bullied.
I truly love Bullies Reality so much. I am glad that this problem is getting the attention and resources that it truly deserves so that we can end this devastating, rising issue and stop the suicide count.
And when you may feel the most helpless, send good thoughts to anyone who is hurting enough to hurt others: those are the people who need healing the most. I know it may be difficult, especially with so much hate in the world, but I promise you that this is the only way to not swallow the poison arrow. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
Keep making good, positive contributions to the world. Trust me, people notice.