Thank You

Feminists are often mistaken as “Man Haters”.

And because I call myself a feminist, I also like to emphasize that I love, respect and admire both men & women equally. (Feminism MEANS the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men – READ THIS) 

Except after my last “situationship” went south a few months ago, I’ve been really jaded. I felt myself slowly slide into man-hating and I started to blame eveything on men, and thought that my life would be a lot better without them.

My professor in college told us that our experiences shape the way in which we see the world.
He told us that your expereinces are like bugs that fly into the windshield when you’re driving. They alter what you’re able to see, sometimes blocking your view.

So if you think about all of the expereinces that have gone “splat” against my view of the world, it makes sense that I got jaded…

I was raped by a man.
I have been talked down to by men.
I have been lied to & used by men.
I have been manipulated by a man.
I have had my dreams squished by a man.
I have been honked at & catcalled by men.
I have been sexually assaulted by men.
I have felt worthless because of the way men have treated me.

Men, have made my life way harder than it needs to be and hurt me in so many ways. These experiences have created a reeeeally nice layer of bug guts on my windshield, and after so many hurtful expereinces with men, I started to feel like I would never meet a good man in this world.

Dramatic I know, but remember my windshield was dirty, and any time I thought about men, I couldn’t see clearly – only a dirty windshield.

Last week, I assigned homework to our interns to write Thank You notes to three different people. I made it my homework to write each of them a Thank You note as well, and as I was writing, I thought it would be nice to write a note for each of the two men I work with too.

One of the men is Kelby,
and when I sat down to write Kelby’s note, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for him.

Kelby is disciplined, listens to loud Electronic music, works out so that he can “look good naked” (his words),  is very organized, clean, and leaves a lot of space inbetween you when he gives hugs.

I realized that he is a beautiful example of what a good man can look like – not becuase of his taste of music or love of working out but because of the way he’s treated me. And because of him, it’s impossible for me to be a “man hater” because to be a “man hater” I would have to hate all men, and I don’t hate all men because I love Kelby.

In my note to him, I thanked him for making me feel respected, heard and valued always. I thanked him for his vulnerability, his loyalty and for the way he communicates. At the end of the letter I asked him to hold on to these qualities, even though the world might tell him otherwise, because they make him an amazing man.

I made Kelby read the note before I left that day, and when he got down to the bottom of the letter he smiled, and gave me a hug. This time, with no space inbetween.

That day, I realized that we don’t celebrate our men enough. We don’t celebrate and thank them enough for the qualities that make them good humans. And I think we should because our culture constantly tells them that hyper-masculinity is the only way to be a man.

So I decided to write down a list of men in my life that I love and admire to write thank you notes to.
And that list is now longer than the list of men who have hurt me.

This has been one of the most healing things I’ve done.
Who knew that Thank You Notes could make such great windshield wipers?

Intimacy



What are you built for?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I sift through different ideas & possibilities for my future.
I’ve thrown myself into different situations over the years to see what I’m made of.

Each situation or space in my life pushed me a little bit outside my norm, causing my natural abilities to express themselves & opportunities to arise to work on skills that didn’t come so naturally to me.

I’ve been thinking about my identity… my 2018 word, & in that the things that I feel that I have a natural gift for.

I have a natural passion for dancing.
I have a natural gift for writing.

I do not have a natural gift for cooking.
I do not have a natural gift for math.
I do not have a natural gift for taking directions.

I have a natural gift for connection & community.

I have a natural gift for vulnerability & intimacy.

That’s something I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately too…

I always talk about how humans were built to be in community with each other…
But tonight I started thinking that maybe humans were built for vulnerability… and somewhere down the line some of us were hurt so badly that the fear of being hurt again keeps us blocked off, rigid, & angry at the world.

But I think we are built for vulnerability.
We are built to be vulnerable.
Becuase there is no connection without vulnerability. 

But me… Annabelle Evangeline in particular……She was made for some kind of insanely raw vulnerability, deep love & and connection – deep intimacy.

Not only is intimacy a natural gift for me, I crave it. 

I skip the boring surface level conversation as fast I can because I want to dig deep. I want to know who you are – and I’ve had people tell me that they feel so comfortable around me I don’t even have to ask! They just share.

I like to understand the “why” behind anything and everything people say or do. I like sharing my thoughts because I like to connect with people…

I love the idea of marriage & spending a lifetime getting to know someone that deeply. I love the idea of someone wanting to know & cherish me that much…

Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’ve thought about the idea of marriage incessantly since I was like 13 years old.
I used to stress about this shit.
I wish I was kidding.  

I never told anyone because I was embarrassed to talk about it.
I was 13! I knew I didn’t have any business thinking about marriage… but I would dream about the day I could ride off into the sunset with someone I would spend forever with.

Now, I see that some of that obsession might have been fueled by one too many Disney princess movies, but now I’m thinking I might be hard-wired for a deep intimate connection with another human being. I mean, I’m sure most people are, but I really feel this and I don’t see other people talk about it the way I feel it.

To be totally real
(this scares me to write because it’s really real) 
I think it’s why I struggle with sex.

or at least part of the reason.

Last week, my roommate was shooting part of a music video in our apartment – I woke up late that day and waltzed into the kitchen in my robe & came face to face with two full-grown men with cameras.

Awkward.

Fortunately, they thought my robe was cute (it is) & we all ended up having a really great conversation. At one point I asked one of the guys a question prompted him to proudly announce to all of us that he was a virgin. You could see how excited he was to be able to share that level of intimacy with someone he really truly deeply loved. I wanted to be happy for him but instead, I was angry.

I was a virgin when I was raped. 
& I constantly think about whether or not I would have waited until marriage to have sex.

I didn’t get a chance to give myself to someone the way I wanted to.
& to cover it up I had sex with the next person I dated as soon as I could.

& since then I’ve been saying I’d wait,
but then have sex again.

I have a weird dichotomy in my head about sex… 
it’s something supernaturally binding & beautiful and at the same time it’s also whatever.

So I guess now I think of marriage as that point where the real untouched, raw, vulnerable, intimacy lives.

& I want it.

Actually, I’ve been studying for it.  (stop laughing at me)

After putting myself through some unfulfilling (to say the least) & heartbreaking relationships, and simultaneously unlocking the power of goal setting, I decided that I can goal-set my way to marriage.
Yes. Really.

I figured if I want a healthy, authentic relationship with someone who loves me for me, I have to do the work! I need to have really high emotionally intelligence & the tools to communicate effectively (Hence me reading Attached – WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and also be pursuing the things that make me, me!

Eventually I’ll attract the right guy.

… right?

The other day I had lunch with a friend who’s been married for a while. She shared a little bit about her idea of marriage, which was bleak compared to mine & she laughed at me a little bit for my goal setting approach. I laughed at me too.

Will it work?
Only God knows.

Until then I think I’m going to accept the fact that I hope to be married one day. I will shed the shame on the fact that being with someone is something I want. I know that it doesn’t make me any less independent or capable or smart –  I just want a partner for this crazy beautiful difficult thing called life.

And to be totally honest, knowing what I was built for & owning it feels good… 

Facebook Memories

Self Timer Photo of me Exploring Malahide, Ireland alone.

One of my favorite things about Facebook is that it brings back memories. It shows you old posts from years ago and I think that is so fun – especially because I have a horrible memory.

But lately looking back at Facebook memories has been really hard.

I keep seeing photos of me smiling and doing fun things but when I look at myself, standing in the photo, I know exactly what was going on under that.

This time 2 years ago I was struggling. Still. I was making really bad relationship decisions & navigating in a space where I felt I didn’t belong.

This time 8 years ago I was struggling. Adjusting. I had just started high school in a brand new state, didn’t know anyone & had anemia. The combination triggered a period of depression.

This time 4 years ago I was struggling. A lot. I had just been raped and hadn’t started therapy and was numb to everything, which started a spiral of bad choices, depression & the beginning of the biggest change and struggle of my life.

I have a bunch of happy photos popping up but they weren’t really happy.

And it’s not like it just this week that’s I’ve seen these posts.
For the past 2 months, I’ve been fighting memories popping up on my timeline.

I keep clicking “see more memories” to try and be reminded of something else, but I have to scroll down to before high school to get away from it all.

I don’t really know what it is about these photos… It’s not like they trigger any flashbacks… I think it gets to be because I remember the way I acted and I know how disconnected I was from myself. I see those photos and I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed. & I don’t know why.

It’s a weird thing to process.
I guess this time of the year generally is a transition period.

To combat these memories, I’ve been posting new ones. I’ve been uploading a lot of my travel photos to Facebook so that next year when Facebook sends me reminders, I can be reminded of what it feels like to explore, grow & be free.

“When we think of the past it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.” 
― Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale

Skeletons In My Closet

Photo By: @AlfieFriday
“When health is absent, 
Wisdom cannot reveal itself,

Art cannot manifest,

Strength cannot fight,

Wealth becomeS useless,

And intelligence cannot be applied.” – Herophilus


In my Instagram post, I said that “beyond physical health, there is also spiritual, emotional, mental, environmental, and social health.”

I want to go deeper into that…


Spiritual health is not just whether you believe in God or not, it’s about how you focus your energy. It’s about your pillars of truth and the things you believe in that keep you grounded. This is the center from which most of your decisions come from.


Emotional health is not just being happy, it’s about learning how to live with the things you feel and channeling those emotions out in the world in constructive ways. 

Mental health is your mindset which is influenced by chemicals in your brain and also has a very strong connection to your emotional health.

Environmental health is your physical environmental which is composed of a lot of things you can & can’t control. The things you can control are things like cleaning your room or organizing your desk. Things you can’t directly control include the amount of pollution in your city when a wildfire burns near your home, federal rulings on health care. 
I also want to add time management in here too. Learning how to influence your environment and the power you have to change it by how you spend your time is important too.

Social health is about the people you keep around you. It’s about all the different kinds of relationships you have and whether or not those relationships are lifting you up or dragging you down. Also, it calls to question how you treat others, which is directly related to mental and emotional health.

In reality, all of these things are very connected to each other but in modern medicine, we don’t talk about these connections as much.

Story Time
On my Instagram post, I mentioned how I’ve been saying no to a lot of things. 
It’s because I’m trying to gain strength, in my mind, body, soul, environment, and friendships to prepare for life after graduation. To slowly transition in order to give me the best shot in conquering my goals and dreams.

And I wanted to share how empowering that has been, especially after today -which is the first time I’ve really noticed it. 

Today, I chatted with a friend of mine who is also an ex-lover. It has been a few months since we’ve spoken to each other and after catching up, the conversation turned to where it used to always go. Sex. 

But today was different. 

I didn’t want to. Like I really didn’t want to even though I knew how fun it would have been and how good it might have felt. I know my heart is somewhere else and I wanted to respect that. I didn’t want to muddy the feelings I have or make it more complicated. I also didn’t want to share myself with someone I didn’t have feelings for anymore.

But I was afraid to say no.

And that’s kind of weird for me considering I am usually pretty good at doing what I want and speaking my mind. It weird for me to feel like I couldn’t tell the truth.


So I sat back with that feeling and asked why. 
That’s when I realized that I was afraid of saying no because I was afraid of not being valued. I was afraid of him getting mad at me and not wanting to be my friend anymore if I didn’t give him what he wanted. 

Well Shit.

That’s not a good reason.
I come first! 

It’s not selfish – I don’t want to have any kind of relationship with someone who makes me feel like I can’t tell the truth about the way I feel or speak my mind without him getting angry.

So I siked myself up. I told myself I was strong. I reminded myself of the commitment that I made about clearing out my life this season, which means saying goodbye to old habits and bad energy and clearing the way for the good stuff. And lastly, I reminded myself that I’d be perfectly fine (probably even better) if I didn’t have sex with him.

So I replied honestly. Instead of making excuses I told him I didn’t want to because my heart was somewhere else, but I did want to hang out as friends.

He flipped shit. 
Told me I teased him & toyed with him.
I told him I didn’t mean to – that I was trying to make a decision and that I was afraid to say no.

I WAS AFRAID TO SAY NO. *Red flag*
That part didn’t register with him.

After an angry phone call, he blocked me & 
I didn’t care.

I felt empowered.
I didn’t even cry.
I was proud of myself.
I took control of my body and my feelings and did what was best FOR ME.
And there is nothing wrong with that.


Of course, I felt bad that he felt so bad about the whole thing, and I felt bad that I bruised his ego. But if he really meant what he said he loved me as a person and friend then I would have expected him to respect my decision in a respectful way. He has no rights to my body – no one does. So to act the way he did was wrong.

Anyway, it was just another step I took to take care of myself in this new season.
I have also stepped back from my job, which has left me more time to strengthen my friendships and also prepare mentally and emotionally for what may lie ahead. I’m making an effort to strengthen my spiritual health by reading books, praying regularly, and listening to podcasts. I’m working out regularly, getting rid of a lot of my clothes, furniture, and possessions. 

And I’m doing it all because I want to be the strongest I can possibly be for the next phase of my life – and it’s working! I’m feeling better about myself and more rooted every day and I can’t wait for my next journey to begin.

The Point

I wanted to write this to remind you, the beautiful, strong, fierce, woman or man reading this, that you CAN say no and that it is okay.
You don’t have to convince yourself that you want it.
You don’t have to do it.
You CAN walk away.

Whether it be a draining job, an unhealthy relationship or a toxic environment, a bad habit, or whatever it is holding you back.

I’m taking care of myself now. And I love myself a lot. And it took me a reeeeeeaaaaally long time to get to this point, but it’s so worth it.

If you can’t think of anything that is holding you back I suggest you do some self-reflection because the things might be more invisible to you. 


Once you can see it doesn’t have to control your life anymore.

It’s like leaving a sock on the floor and then walking by it so many times that you forget it’s there – it becomes a part of your everyday life. It’s not until you decide to clear your floor that you realize you were stepping over it every day.

We have to listen to the way we feel in different situations and hold tight to what those feelings are telling us. Ask questions, dig deeper.

Imagine where you want to be or the kind of woman or man you’d like become and make the decision you think that person would make. Manifest what you want and say no to the things you don’t need or don’t improve your life/make you happy.

You deserve the best and you deserve to be healthy, but most of all you deserve your own love. 

The Day I Became Normal

Photo by: @Jackbolga
New York, New York

I hate the word normal.

Because normal is relative.
Because it’s not a consistent scale to base our judgments on.

What I really mean is healed, free from poor mental health.

I went to therapy for a long time after I was raped 3 years ago. I took a break for a while and then decided to go back about a week before I got into my accident because I was starting to feel depressed again. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Something didn’t feel “normal”, and then when I had my accident, I ended up laying in bed for a solid week even though I had no physical ailment aside from the light burn on my left arm.  I felt like my reaction wasn’t normal.

But an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is in fact, natural and normal. 

What is the “proper” reaction to feeling like your stuck in a place you don’t belong, living out your life for other people, and then witnessing your car get totaled by a drunk driver from the inside? 

Answer: There is none.
Becuase everyone processes situations differently in their brain based on their life experiences and about 10000 other things.

Anyway, fast forward a few months and about 4 therapy sesssions. I’m feeling better, & probably a little too excited to get this last semester of college over with and freakin graduate already.

I went to therapy last week, told her about my winter break and then started to tell her about my therapeutic goals for the semester when she interrupted me – “Before you tell me your goals, can I give you some feedback?”
“Yes of course!” I said enthusiastically. (I love feedback.)
“Well from what I see, you don’t have much to work on here. There’s no sign of mental health issues at all.”
“What?” Tears welled up in my eyes immediately.
“You don’t need to come to therapy anymore Annabelle. I even have a hard time writing my notes sometimes.”
“Are you serious?”
 ” Yeah! You have struggles, just like anyone else, but you are more than capable of handling them! I see no reason to keep you here!”

I laugh-cried.
She was surprised to see me cry & I told her it was because I was relieved, and felt so grateful that she told me. I didn’t realize how much weight I had been carrying from feeling “abnormal”. It was like someone finally checked under my bed and in the closet and found no evidence of any kind of monster lurking in the shadows. 

But I was also kind of scared.
Now, I don’t have something to blame my feelings on. I can’t use my ‘depression’ as a crutch or an excuse for the negativity I feel anymore. I can’t blame the monsters in my closet for my temper tantrums or making my room a mess. 
This is real life now, and real life is full of unpleasant feelings, and I am responsible for taking care of myself and cleaning my room.  

But with the fear came freedom too; and validation, and reassurance that not everyone feels things the same way, and that what I need to do to take care of myself and deal with those feelings, is okay, even if it looks different from everyone else. 

My struggle through healing from being raped and feeling unworthy has taught me how to take care of myself and not to judge those strange “abnormal” feelings when they arise. 
Suffering is just a part of life, even a happy and healthy one. This is it.

I’m not a victim of rape.
I’m not a lost girl.
I’m not unworthy.
I’m not fighting.
I’m not suffering.
I am alive.
I am living.
I am growing.
I am a survivor but,
I am also more than that.
I am 100% me.

Nothing is looming in the dark to pull me back under. 
There are no monsters in my closet, and that’s a pretty big deal.

Later I asked her about her opinion on the purpose of suffering.
She said “I think it’s growth. Pain always leaves an opportunity for growth – without it, we would never change. We only change when something is uncomfortable or hurts.”

Health is not the absence of disease or suffering, it’s more. It’s taking a changing circumstance and turning it into an opportunity for growth.

I found this online, and I think it’s pretty great. It’s what this guy, Dr. Ratson believes is a true meaning/definition/path to health.

“A person must recognize the inherent PURPOSE of his or her own life. The constant awareness of why you are here and whether you are working towards that purpose can help you to wade through the conflicting and confusing mass of expert advice. This is important because there is a lot of confusing and conflicting expert advice available and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

When you feel unconditional LOVE for yourself and others, you cannot help hut feel that the entire universe supports you. There won’t be room for a cynical or hostile view of the world or its people. Many negative emotions arise from a cynical, paranoid and hostile view of the world. Believe it or not, but our view of the world affects our health. 


When you take total RESPONSIBILITY for your own well-being, you can trust and rely on your innate biological, psychological and spiritual healing power. Also, when you assume total responsibility, you can never abuse your personal power.

With inner FREEDOM, you can no longer be a slave to external pressures or other handicapping conditions. Inner freedom gives you hope for the possible and faith in the probable. You are then able to experience genuine joy. When you characteristically experience genuine joy, something interesting happens. Others cease to irritate you or give you any more grief, even though their behavior might not have significantly changed.”

– Dr. Ratson