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  • Juliette Angelo

Seriously, who cares?

I have been called a lot of things. (Some of which will live on the internet for all of eternity). This used to bother me - trigger me even - but the older I get, the more I do not care how people view me. If you think I am naive, aloof, arrogant, delusional, pretentious, so what? I know who I am, I know I am not any of those things. When people judge you, it is just a projection of their own insecurities, or their own inability to accept reality. It has nothing to do with who you are, and everything to do with who they are.

I have been a professional doormat my entire life. I lived for everyone else, I altered my own beliefs to appease others (Los Angeles has a way of doing that to a person), and I never once felt like I had any sort of identity. I was a mess of everybody else, and depending on the person I was with, adapted my own personality to what would make them comfortable. I have been the quiet girl, the obnoxious class clown, the downtrodden pessimist, the annoyingly positive optimist, the Conservative, the Liberal, the Republican, the Democrat. (Politics are stupid). I was constantly acting, even when I wasn't acting. My life was a performance. Every day I was a different character. It was exhausting.

Even when I was writing some of my past blogs, I asked myself: Can I say that? Would that be acceptable? Would people like me? Is that too risky? I caught myself second guessing my own thoughts. Like when I was younger, I was confined to this little box, if I step out of it, there might be a problem. The more I write, the more I do not care. These are my thoughts, it's fine if you don't like them. Go find some you do.

I am so deeply rooted in myself I do not even mind when people disagree with me. In the past, I would backtrack, apologize, and say they were right. Then proceed to overwhelm them with kindness. I was terrified of being disliked. Now, I love setting boundaries, I love telling people no, I love calling out people who have taken advantage of me. When you haven't been allowed to say no in the past, it becomes your favorite word. 'No, I don't believe in that. No, I don't like you. No, you can't have my number.' It never gets old.

Maybe it is because of the new year, or maybe there is simply something in the air, but I have never been more delighted to be myself. I love going out to a bar and telling people I am sober. I love being me. I used to be so morbidly insecure, I would pray every night to wake up as someone else. In a way, I guess I have, but instead, I have just woken to my authentic self. Everything I did not like about myself was just what people taught me not to like. Tell a smart girl she is stupid, and she will believe it. Until she realizes that she was only told she was stupid because of how smart she was.

I was so insecure in my own skin, I desperately needed people to tell me I was pretty. Every time I went out, I dressed for others, never for myself. Now, don't get me wrong, it is nice to be told I am attractive (although I prefer the more intricate compliments, someone recently told me I reminded her of Joy from Inside Out, which was awesome) (also any guy telling me I am pretty is that much more amplified by a southern accent and a pair of Wranglers, but I digress); however, the older I get, the less I care about how I look.

I enjoy getting ready, I take care of myself, I love being a girl, but I am not self conscious anymore. I am not constantly searching for someone to tell me I am attractive. Who cares? I love the way I look, because I love who I am as a person. That internal confidence radiates. (Or maybe it's because I went blonde.)

I hardly think of anyone but myself anymore. Not in a selfish way, just in a 'why do I care so much about what other people are doing' way. I am too entertained by my own life to put that much thought into others. They are on their own soul journey, why am I constantly scrutinizing their every decision? The more energy I put into thinking about other people the less energy I put into myself. I am not going to say we only have one life (because I do not believe that, I am an old soul through and through), but why waste time thinking about others when there is a whole world to explore? Life is a gift.

Recently, I was met with someone who had a lot of questions about life, and I couldn't even muster up the energy to engage. I used to be the anxious ball of questions... What is the meaning of all of this? What is next month going to bring? How am I going to make this happen? What is going on with this world? Is God real? Now, I don't even think about tomorrow. I don't live with a list of questions. The Universe has a plan, and it is a great one.

Open up your heart to the unknown. There is so much beauty in this world... abundance, enjoyment, fun. All you have to do is get out there and claim it.

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  • Juliette Angelo

It is that time of the year again.

With Christmas rolling in, I found myself thinking about traditions and religion.

When I got sober in 2021, I grappled with the idea of 'God'. I have always been a fairly spiritual person, although never having put much thought into it. Very young, I had an understanding that the world was not black and white. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school, and as I grew older, did not have much capacity to question the ways of the world. I was asleep, in auto pilot, just trying to get by. My later teenage years, I began to seek guidance, and dabbled with tarot. I could feel myself shifting, as if some part of my psyche was finally beginning to wake up from its slumber.

After I got sober - and had a full blown spiritual awakening - I found that I needed something more. I had too much pain and I did not know where to put all of it. It was obvious to me that there was something divine at work in my life. I wanted to dive deeper into that revelation.

I have survived a lot in my life. There have been moments, specifically in the past few years, where I could not find any meaning in my existence. Why had I gone through all this pain? What was the purpose?

I have had my experience with the Church, Christianity, Catholicism, organized religion... but something did not sit right with me. Like so many others, I was taught that God = Church. Where else was I supposed to find him? Newly sober, I looked for sanctuary anywhere I could, which naturally brought me to the Church community, specifically Celebrate Recovery. I found that my values did not align with theirs. Why was my 'God' so different from yours, when we supposedly believed in the same thing? After a tumultuous time, and much confusion, I left religion once and for all. I was completely lost, but for the first time, I was free.

Left with no one to turn to, and no church to go to, I had to venture deeper within myself. This is when I began to find my true God.

I realized that religion and spirituality are two very different things. As I began my independent soul journey, I felt as though I was finally awake. I had surrendered myself to the unknown, to a higher power of my understanding, just like they teach in AA. I could feel things I had not be able to before. At first, I thought I was going "crazy" (which I have learned is just a cheap word for people who lack any type of spiritual or emotional depth), but I learned to trust myself.

Through a variety of spiritual practices, such as: reiki, biofield tuning, energy cleansing, yoga, meditation, sound bowl work, affirmations, equine therapy, prayer, and journaling, I slowly began to feel the healing within my body, my spirit. I felt poisoned, as if my soul needed to be detoxed. I had done the 'clinical' work on my brain, but that only goes so far. Bit by bit, I rebuilt my spirit and cleansed my soul. I could feel the heaviness leave my body. I felt lighter, happier, clearer, purer. I slowly learned to love myself.

Today, I live in peace. I do not practice any specific type of organized religion. There are some practices I like to take part in, but for the most part, I do my own thing. I still go to church sometimes (I've always thought the buildings were beautiful), I have a buddha in my house, I have a cross, I have some plants, I have some tarot, I have a very large variety of crystals, but most importantly, I have myself.

Through spirituality, I have healed from experiences that I thought would be impossible to move forward from. I remember those moments of true disparity. I remember falling to my knees and begging the pain would stop. I look back on those memories with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and wonder. You can heal from anything. Nothing is impossible. Impossibility is just a belief taught to us by the mundane.

The more in tune I become with myself, the less and less I need. I know I have stepped forward into a life of peace. In fact, just last night I had a dream of walking away from a tornado. I could feel the wind behind me, I could hear the roar, but it did not affect me. I was walking away from a life of turmoil and upset. I often receive messages within my dreams. This one certainly left an impact on me.

I do not feel inclined to believe in anything I do not believe in anymore. I myself have been hypocritical to my own beliefs... How can I be around someone who so rejects the way I have found my peace? Why am I participating in practices I do not believe in? I fall into this trap still. I alter my own belief system to appease others, mostly out of fear, or intimidation, which I am learning to become stronger against.

I believe in love, I believe in balance, I believe in a beautiful afterlife. I believe in a higher power that loves me, unconditionally, and only wishes to see me happy. I believe in hummingbirds and the magic of horses. I am okay existing in quiet peace and I am fine not knowing all the answers.

It is so freeing to write about these things, after being told what to believe for so long. I know so many people are yearning for spiritual freedom after a lifetime of being told how to think. I have seen many others find peace within themselves and walk away from teachings that no longer serve them. It is a beautiful thing.

My rule of thumb: If it scares you, it is not "God".

If it brings you peace, if it makes you believe in your dreams, if your life melts together like butter, if you feel unconditionally loved and protected, that is your 'God'.

It is whatever you want it to be: male, female, genderless, an energy, an animal, a feeling, yourself. You are the creator of your own reality, you are loved without judgment. Anything that teaches you otherwise is not worthy of your magic.

"It is not what we do that changes the world, it is who we become."

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  • Juliette Angelo

“He saw a baby elephant tied to a post with a steel chain. The baby ripped and scratched and tried to get free, but the chain wouldn't break. Then, he saw a grown elephant tied to a post with nothing but a little piece of rope. He asked his mother how the little piece of rope held the big elephant in place. She explained they chain the babies until they give up. The elephants think that little piece of rope is still a chain.”

- Stephen Chbosky, Imaginary Friend

Lately I've been thinking about emotional chains and illusions of power. I myself have succumbed to others' false sense of authority time and time again. I've bowed down to those who take advantage of me. I've allowed others to poison my mindset, to doubt my own abilities, all because, once upon a time, someone convinced me I was trapped.

We are a free people. Our minds are our greatest superpower. They can transport us into new worlds, allow us to create our own realities, but they are sensitive, vulnerable, and intricate, and very impressionable when we are very young.

When you are taught you are chained from childhood, it feels nearly impossible to live without it. There even becomes a point where that chain is comforting. The thought of living without that chain is impossible, for who am I, if not tied down?

That's the question that changes everything. For who am I, without limitations? Without restrictions? Without doubt? Without fear? Who am I?

As the brain begins wondering, thinking, learning... The chain becomes lighter, fainter, quieter. Until the chain is nothing more than a string around our ankle. A string we can simply break out of, in fact, it's already untied. Some may question if the string was even there to begin with.

One of the hardest things I ever did was realize that I was deserving of something more out of life. The crushing reality of my circumstances broke me, for once someone convinced me that that chain was in fact made out of love.

Love does not weigh you down. Love does not control you, manipulate you, feed you falsehoods about who you are and backwards prophecies about what you are capable of becoming. Love does not ask for anything in return. Love wants nothing but to see you happy and at peace.

The Avett Brothers wrote a beautiful song about love and hate, entitled The Ballad of Love and Hate. I'll link it here.

I also wrote a beautiful song about love, entitled Black and Blue. I'll link it here as well.

I have always admired elephants. I find them to be gigantic, intimidating creatures who want nothing more than to be loved. Isn't that what we all want, at our core? That giant in your life, who wants nothing but to see you fail, does he not want anything but to be loved? And somewhere along the line someone taught him he was not deserving of such? And thus, the cycle continues?

The chain is a story that needn't exist in your life any longer. You are so much bigger and stronger than you could ever imagine. All you must do is believe, take that first step, shatter the chain, break the string, and walk into the brightness of a future that is so graciously waiting for you.

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