From Unhappy to Rediscovery: How My Life Has Changed in a Year

I just hit the year mark with Clo Bare!  What a year it’s been on the path to rediscover myself.

Crazy, right? That went by fast, and it also feels like forever ago when I blindly decided to embark on this journey. 

This last year has been a lot of things. It’s been full of rediscovering myself and coming to terms with  hard truths in order to get closer to the person that I want to be. It’s been filled with changes, aches and pains, growth, stretching, tears, confusion, uncertainty, and ultimately lots of experimentation.

It hasn’t been easy, or quick.
It hasn’t been straight forward or prescriptive or standard.

But all of it has been necessary.

The Beginning: Blogs & Therapy

I started this blog the same week that I started going to therapy. Each experience has been catalyst for my growth in its own way.

My therapy has felt like a compass or a map, laying out a path for me to find my way to what I feel like I lost in myself, and the blog has felt like part of the vessel that is taking me there.

Corny, but true. And what’s life without a little corny?

This blog was started because I was struggling. I was overwhelmed with my life, unhappy and unsure of what to do about it because it wasn’t bad enough to feel urgent.

I was struggling but it never felt "bad enough" to be urgent. I now know feeling "not bad enough" only stopped me from getting the help I needed sooner-- Clo Bare,

​ It wasn’t at all like my lowest low, but I hung in a sort of purgatory where I had the overarching feeling that something just wasn’t quite right. The problem was, I couldn’t figure out what that something was, even though that something felt huge in its absence and seemed to permeate all aspects of my life. ​

Something was wrong. I was unhappy. And that something was that I had abandoned myself to try to be someone I am not.

So naturally, I started experimenting with different types of self-care.

I tried a million different diets and exercise routines, thinking that my physical health and fitness would translate into sparkling mental health and well being.

There were attempts to sleep in a separate bedroom from my boyfriend at the time, thinking that I needed more space (and sleep) to figure things out.

I tried changing my hours at work, thinking that the commute was the cause of my explosive anger and impatience.

We attempted communicating more, and trying to think more positively, thinking that all I needed was to improve my attitude.

At times, I tried changing what I wanted out of life, thinking that if I only wanted to be married and wanted to have kids and wanted to have a house in the suburbs, the problems in my relationship and the holes in my identity would be fixed.

I tried taking supplements, and going to bed earlier, and taking more time to paint and spending more time with friends.

I tried sobriety, I tried partying, I tried new hobbies, I tried saying yes to everything, I tried reading self-help books, and I tried yoga.

May 2017: I had just moved in with my boyfriend at the time and we were struggling already despite trying our hardest. He surprised me on my 26th birthday with a crown and backdrop from some Disney movie. At the time I was trying a new diet to solve my issues–Tim Ferris’s 4-hour body. If you’ve read it, you know it’s absolute torture and a terrible idea for people in ED recovery.

You know what I didn’t try? Figuring out what was actually wrong. It took me far longer than I’d like to admit to understand that all those things I was trying were just band-aids for the truth:

Something was wrong. I was unhappy. And that something was that I had abandoned myself to try to be someone I am not.

I missed me, and I didn’t know how to be me.

The truth was that I had in a way abandoned myself somewhere back in China, and I was stunned to realize I had no idea how to get her back.

Baffled on where to begin, I started with the only things I knew had brought me joy, clarity and peace in the past: blogging and therapy.

Fast forward to a year later, here I am living my life in a way that feels less passive and more on purpose. And I am really fucking proud of myself.

Deal with your problems head on. It’ll be much easier than ignoring them and letting them spread into areas of your life until you wake up one day and find yourself raging and spouting angry tears over the tiniest things– say spilling a jar of salsa on the tile floor and then screaming at your neighbors and boyfriends for complaining about the noise. *Cough* Hypothetically, of course.

July 2017: A few months before I started my blog. At the time I tried to dive deeper into work in order to feel more purpose and sense of worth.
Anyway, on to what this post is about! This post is about all the things I’ve learned this last year, so let’s get to it. 

On this journey, I’ve learned a few things so far. And I wanted to share the top 6 things that have helped change my life in the last year.

6 Lessons from a Year of Change and Rediscovery

1. Positive thinking isn’t the solution.

If you’ve ever gone to the self-help section of a bookstore or even googled “how to change your life”, you’ll get bombarded with literature on how to think more positively.

When I first started making changes, one of the first things I turned to was exactly that. I fell into the trap of thinking  maybe if I could just change my perspective, everything would be better.

Work would get easier and less stressful; my boyfriend and I would understand each other better; my life would have purpose again.

But the thing is, those negative thoughts we get serve a purpose.

They come around because something is wrong, and something needs to change.

Positive thinking didn’t solve the fact that I needed to go to therapy to deal with the unresolved trauma that had left me emotionally stunted. It didn’t help me to end my relationship so that I could start focusing more on who I was as an individual and what I needed from myself before I could want someone else.

Positive thinking can come in handy at times, but for the most part, forced positivity prevents me from acknowledging my real feelings and dealing with them head on.

Relying on positive thinking alone is like putting a bowl under a leak. Sure, it’s there to help me out, catch the water so that it doesn’t ruin the wood floors, and I can always put it away and pull it out when I need it.

But what I really need to do is fix the leak, and while I’m using the bowl, that leak is just getting worse and worse until I decide to deal with it.

Deal with your problems head on. It’ll be much easier than ignoring them and letting them spread into areas of your life until you wake up one day and find yourself raging and spouting angry tears over the tiniest things– say spilling a jar of salsa on the tile floor and then screaming at your neighbors and boyfriend for complaining about the noise. *Cough* Hypothetically, of course.

September 2017: Started blogging about things that made me most uncomfortable, like body image, eating disorders, feeling incomplete and just the overall struggles of mental health and adulting.  

2. Done is better than perfect.

I would have never started this blog had I been worried that the blog needed to be perfect.

Perfection, and the desire to achieve perfection is something that I’ve grappled with for most of my life, but I’m starting to think that striving for perfection is just another form of fear, procrastination and avoidance.

Perfectionist thought: I didn’t publish it because it wasn’t perfect.

Fear thought: I’m afraid that people will hate it.

Procrastination thought: I’m not in the perfect head space to write the perfect thing. The timing needs to be right and it just isn’t right now.

Avoidance: I won’t do it because I don’t have the time to make it perfect.

All those thoughts do a really good job of making sure that I don’t do anything that scares me, and that’s just not my jam anymore. I wasted two years waiting for the perfect blog idea.

This blog came to me approximately two minutes after I decided to say fuck it, and just start one simply because I wanted to.

I did. I had no idea where it would go or what it would be about, but I did it, and I’ve never once regretted getting my imperfect blog up there.

While there are times when I still get wrapped up in thinking, “I won’t publish this yet because it’s not perfect and I’m afraid people will hate it”, for the most part, I’m much less concerned about what other people think and much more concerned about getting my thoughts on paper and out there.

​At the end of the day, this blog is not a literary masterpiece. It’s a goddamn blog. Write, edit for typos, publish and repeat.

​Still working on that typos step. I’m a disgrace to the English degree community.

November/December 2018: I was barely to keep up with posting because I was diving even deeper in to work and trying to fix my relationship.  

Lately, I’ve gotten really good at taking a step back and remembering my own truth beyond the worry. The truth is, I do not want to be with someone simply because I am afraid of being alone.

3. Fear is not a good reason to stay.

There are lots of good reasons to stay in a relationship. Fear is not one of those reasons.

I find myself in this scenario often:

I’m dating a man.

He’s nice, attractive, and overall a pretty good guy with no outrageous red flags or reasons to run. But something feels off. Something feels missing.

I keep going out on a few dates with him, trying to test out the waters, make sure I know that that something that isn’t there is really not there at all and I pick and prod at my thoughts trying to understand why I’m just not as interested as I feel like I should be.

I mean look at him!

He’s cute. Tall. He’s nice. And he likes me too. That’s good enough, right?

But eventually, maybe after the fourth or fifth date, I end it because I can’t shake the feeling that something just isn’t right.

I feel good about the decision– a sense of relief and a sigh of no longer having the burden of not knowing on my shoulders. I go on with my days, happy to have the time back to myself, and then, inevitably, in the wake of tiny moments of the mundane– the sharp pang of loneliness hits me.

And I think…

What if I never get another shot at love?
Should I have made that relationship work?
What if I ended it with someone who was secretly perfect for me and I’m just too dumb to see it?
Maybe I’m the problem and I should be happy for whatever schmuck ends up with me?
Perhaps I made a mistake. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I should text him. I should text him, right? Yeah. I think I’ll text him.

Cue the emergency brake.

I used to give in to those thoughts. Drink to numb those feelings. I’d drunk dial exes to try and distract myself from feeling the loneliness that is an inevitable part of being human. I’d wallow and feel pity for myself.

But not so much any more.

Lately, I’ve gotten really good at taking a step back and remembering my own truth beyond the worry. The truth is, I do not want to be with someone simply because I am afraid of being alone.

Fear will not be my reason.

My reasons will be because I can’t wait to see that person again.

Because I can’t wait to hear what comes out of that person’s mouth.

My reasons will be because my life is full and complete and adding this person to it only fills it further and maybe even lights it on fire in the best possible way.

I don’t want my reason to be because maybe this should be good enough. I want my reasons to make me so sure, that doubt doesn’t stand a chance.

February 2018: Shit gets real. I write about my breakup and start going to therapy more consistently.

4. Meditation really is all it’s cracked up to be.

That, in addition to EMDR (I talk more about EMDR in this post), has potentially been the biggest game changer for me. I feel like I am now capable of looking at my thoughts from an outsider’s perspective and am able to pick and choose which thoughts I engage in.

It’s like swiping left and right on your brain’s commentary:

Swipe right: Yes, I like that thought. I’ll keep it.

Swipe left:  No, fuck that thought, moving on.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve started meditating for fifteen minutes daily and it’s been helping me to recognize feelings for what they are, allow myself to feel them, and then move on.*

In the past, I think I more avoided my feelings which would only add to the pot of unresolved issues that I kept brewing in the depths of my subconscious until they’d boil over and self-destruct.

I’m trying hard to not run away from those emotions I’m so used to avoiding, and I’ve found that simply recognizing how I feel and not trying to change it is the best way to stop a feeling from turning into more than what it needs to be. Being mindful helps, although mindfulness and meditation are two things I’m still trying to master.

Speaking of mindfulness– a great resource on mindfulness that I recently came across is on a blog called “Relax Like a Boss”. John’s post “The Art of Mindfulness” is one of the MOST comprehensive guides on mindfulness that I’ve seen yet. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for more information on the craft of being in the ever elusive present.

April 2018: Shit gets even real-er. I start trauma therapy (EMDR) a day before I go on a week long trip to New York for work. My reaction to it is so extreme, that my therapist tells me we have to take a step back and only focus on talk therapy. This is also when I did my own personal-selfie-timer photo shoot in a Manhattan apartment so that I could have the photos for my blog that I’ve been using for almost six months now.

​5. I don’t want to settle.

I’ve always known this, but this year was a reminder that I don’t want to give up on my dreams.

I’ve given up on my dreams more times than I have pursued them, and I’m done with that shit.

I don’t want to be afraid that my goals are too big or too crazy or too scary. I’m just going to stay fuck it and go for it.

What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I’ll die having tried, and I’m totally cool with that.

What I’m not cool with is settling for less and not trying because I’m too scared of failing.

You know what would happen if I did that? I think I’d get really pissed off and bitter, and that’s just not what I’m after.

I’m okay with being me. I’m okay with not always being understood because of it. I want to be doing exactly what I want to be doing, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.

Most importantly,  I want to be here on this journey. I want to be growing in this way and I want to keep at it.  

​Not everyone is going to understand, and that is absolutely okay. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but my life is sure as shit going to be my own damn cup of tea.

June/July 2018: I write about depression. I write about dating. I write about my failures and owning them. My therapist reintroduces EMDR, and I write about how fucking hard EMDR actually is. Even while some of the most emotionally tough work is going on, I start to find a deeper feeling of confidence in myself and a stronger sense of my identity.

6. Therapy only works if I’m willing to put in the work.

The therapy I did this year was some of the toughest and most transformative work I’ve ever done. I had emotional breakdowns, shocking breakthroughs, drunk dialing mishaps, plateaus, victories and mistakes.

There were many Saturday therapy sessions that I left feeling like a zombie, completely drained of all energy after a particularly emotional EMDR session.

There were moments when my binge eating disorder would re-emerge as maladaptive coping mechanism, trying to take over and comfort me, and there were nights when I’d drink too much to stop feeling what I was feeling that resulted in embarrassing fuck-ups.

​But I kept at it, and I’m still at it, doing the homework, and taking action in the areas of my life where I can. Because of that, I’m finally in a place where I feel resolved, calm, and at peace with the majority of myself.

​I’m not sure there’s ever been a time in my life where I could say that and mean it. It’s an exciting place to be.

September/October 2018: I GRADUATE from this particular phase of trauma therapy, and I’m starting to feel like a mother fucking queen in so many aspects of my life. Still work to do, and still figuring things out, but all of it excites me.

What a friggin’ year.

In the last twelve months, I’ve:

  1. I ended my relationship (on a good note) with my live-in ex boyfriend
  2. Moved out of my apartment and into a new apartment with a wonderful human being who started off as a stranger off of Craigslist
  3. Quit my job that was causing me a lot of stress but was also a large part of my identity
  4. Started a new job in a new industry in a new career path
  5. Started and completed EMDR therapy for a past trauma.

Nothing is the same except the city and my friends, and that kind of excites the crap out of me.

So what’s next for Clo Bare?

In the next couple of months you might see some changes.

I’m going to revamp some of the about me pages and build out some categories to make sure that navigating this blog is as easy as possible so that you can read about the things that you’re looking for.

I’m still working on determining what those categories will be, but they’ll most likely be mental health, body image, and maybe something along the lines of personal growth.

Not sure.

​Maybe one on dating/relationships/love or something along those lines. Got suggestions? Drop them in the comments. I always LOVE to hear from readers, and you guys are the experts when it comes to navigating this blog.

I will ALSO be introducing a new category within the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled. I’m really excited about it, and I think it’s something that everyone can relate to on some level.

But I’m not going to tell you what it is, yet.

Anyway, if you’re reading this, thank you for reading.

Whether you’ve been here for the last year or you just found me and decided to check out what’s going on, thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone on life’s weird little struggles that so many of us deal with.

​It’s awesome having a group of people who have been cheering me along and keeping me accountable. I’m looking forward to what this next year will bring, and excited to keep hearing from all the wonderful humans who are just trying to adult too.

With love,
Clo Bare

*Interested in meditation but no idea where to start? Cool. Me too. I’ve been using the free version of the Headspace app. I love it. It’s been a huge game changer for my mental health and observing my thoughts. I even got my colleague addicted and she now does it with her kids too! Check it out and let me know what you think!

5 thoughts on “From Unhappy to Rediscovery: How My Life Has Changed in a Year”

  1. I can honestly say that it’s transformed my entire life — and I’ve seen it transform the lives of thousands of other people. I had an alcoholic father, and ran away from home as a teenager before turning to drugs. Over time I developed some health problems, and eventually I became committed to studying science, meditation, and how our brains affect our bodies. I travelled all over the world working with teachers and experts and spent 25 years developing the SOS Method(, a unique meditation solution that would help those facing trauma and others who want to reduce stress and improve their mental health. I believe in it because I’ve seen it work — for myself and for people all over the world from all walks of life.

  2. Hi there,nice to meet you..
    I simply love your determination and the way you try to reach out people by giving them precious life learning processes,people should really be driven by your experiences cause i can see myself through yours internal challenges and really recommend to pay attention in order to improve!
    I hope we could get in touch over the future,for now take care and see you soon 🙂

  3. It’s like I’m reading my life story. Not the same way but very similar.

    It’s time for FEcking decision!!!

    Everything happens for a reason. And this post was a sign. Take care, Jess.

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