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Perri McGillivray: It's Okay to Struggle With Self-Connection

Interview Questions by Mei-Mei Mijares

M: You brought up how your connection with yourself has evolved over the past year or so. What does the word “connection” mean to you now? How do you define it, and what feelings are stirred?

P: To me, connection -- specifically to myself -- means feeling present and comfortable in my body and my mind. It’s something that I strive for because I believe feeling connected to myself gives me the foundation I need to take on any other challenges in my life.

M: It was really relieving to hear that I wasn’t alone in losing myself in past relationships, but my heart goes out to you because it’s a terrible feeling. I’m happy you’re getting to know yourself again. While writing this blog, or on your journey in general, was there something you learned about yourself that stood out to you? Maybe even surprised you to learn? For me, I learned that I really like makeup. I didn’t get to explore that in the past.

P: I’ve written a little about this in a previous post, but I rediscovered my love for body mods and fun hairstyles. It was something I was really into during my preteen/early teenage years, but I gave it up for a while to try and be more “normal” (whatever that means). When I was with my ex, I shied away from that stuff even more and wouldn’t even cut my hair because it wasn’t something he approved of, even though he wouldn’t have actually stopped me if I tried. Since breaking up, I started exploring things like tattoos and piercings and dyeing my hair again and have had a lot of fun regaining the confidence and self love to “decorate” the body I call my home.

M: When that self-avoidance starts creeping up again, what do you do? How do you cope?

P: Honestly, I’m still trying to figure this one out. I think one of my go to methods is just to get out for a little. If I notice I’m doing nothing but sitting on my phone or binge watching shows, I’ll make myself go for a drive and take a breather. The great thing about driving is it still gives me something to occupy myself with but I can’t bury myself in a screen. It forces me to just sit with me for a little.

M: What are things that made you feel lonely before that you now enjoy?

P: Running errands. I used to hate doing any kind of shopping on my own, but now I actually kind of look forward to going to the pet store on my own. I can take my time looking around at all the different animals and browsing the cat aisles for toys and things I really don’t need. I like having a list of things I need to get and coming home feeling like I accomplished something with physical results.

M: Are you happier?

P: Compared to where I was a year ago? Definitely. I can’t say I’m at 100% yet, but I’ve come a really long way to get to a point where I’m much healthier mentally. I feel much more ready to face myself and do the work it takes for me to be happy. It’s all a process and sometimes I get a little frustrated by how long it seems to take, but when I look back at all the progress I’ve made, especially in the past few months, I feel more optimistic about the future.

M: What do you hope that our audience takes away from this piece? What do you hope that they feel?

P: I just hope they take away that it’s okay to struggle with themselves and that they’re not alone. I really wanted to write a piece about something that I’m still in the middle of. I feel like a lot of the writing people publish about their experiences and struggles are written after the fact, or farther along into recovery. While they are amazing pieces and definitely helpful to read, it can sometimes feel a little lonely or far away when you’re reading them and are still in the middle of whatever it is you’re going through. I’m definitely not in a place where I can say I know myself or even can easily connect with myself yet, and that’s okay. What matters is that I’m working on it and I want anyone struggling with the same thing to know that it’s a process we’re going through together.

M: Where can our audience find you and what are you working on that excites you nowadays?

P: I can be found on Instagram @pocketualpieces. Right now I’m mostly working on school and writing content for the LYF. I’m also finishing up a giant crocheted octopus plushie for my sister and I’m about to tackle a pretty big sewing project that I’m excited about too, but I can’t say what it is because it’s going to be a Christmas gift!

Read Perri's post: Me? I Don't Know Her

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