Dimelo: "I'm Too Young to Feel This Old"

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Querida P,

I find myself in a place in my life where I must make big decisions. I have two jobs and a lot on my plate: I’m nursing my mother back to health after a fight with cancer and picking up some of her responsibilities, and I’m in a relationship that I feel is withering away and it breaks my heart, not to mention I have a beautiful 1-year old traviesa.I never thought that my life would end up like this. I thought by now I would be at least done with school. I know I am still young (22) but I had to grow up really fast when I was a little girl and I don't know how to be me anymore. I feel like a run-down old lady and I don't know how to get the real me back.  Any words of advice for this lost old soul?
Sincerely,

Alma Perdida

Dear Alma,

Amigita? How are you still standing? Just reading your list of responsibilities made me hyperventilate a bit. Don't worry -- I fixed it with a glass of wine, so we can continue now.

At 22, I was living on campus while I worked on finishing up my college degree and lying to my parents about where I actually met The Boyfriend That Eventually Turned Into The Husband. (Shhh! We met online before people stopped assuming that meant he was a serial killer and I was an idiot). In other words, I, at your age, was doing the "typical" young-twenty-something stuff because, unlike you, I wasn't holding the weight of the world on my shoulders. My list of responsibilities right this very minute is the reason I have wine in my house at all times, but m'ijita, I'm not 22-year-old anymore, so it kind of comes with the territory.

You say you have decisions to make, but it sounds like some have been decided for you. Work is hard and two jobs is harder, but certain things in life, like taking care of your mother, are just what we do. But don't ignore options that may be available to help lessen the load. Do you have siblings or cousins who could chip in? Have you looked into the possibility of in-home health care? If all else fails, I'd suggest hiring someone you can trust to take over, say, once a week. You can't take care of your mom without taking care of you, too.

Your relationship is withering and while you say it is breaking your heart, you didn't ask me how to save it. It's natural to feel sadness when a relationship has run its course even if you (and your heart) know the end is for the best. But if you know it's fizzling out, why not just make a clean break and move on? All I'm saying is Band-Aids hurt a hell of a lot more when you peel them off slowly. Rip that sucker off, acknowledge the sting until it fades, listen to that break-up iTunes playlist (you'll probably create right after you finish reading this) on repeat, eat too much ice cream, and keep moving forward. Your heart gets lighter with each step. And there's something to be said for the sense of self you'll regain by taking control of your fate instead of waiting for life to happen.

 As a young mother responsible for a small child and a devoted daughter dedicated to caring for the mother you also are responsible for, you say you are lost and want to know how to find yourself. I admire you, Alma Perdida, for not many at your age are searching for themselves while balancing as many plates. Are you proud of yourself? Because you should be.

You're busy (obviously) and with your mama and baby to care for, so you can't go running off to live the Spanglish version of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love memoir (which you're going to read if you haven't already, right?), but you can do plenty of soul-searching en casa.

Here’s how:

*Get thyself a pretty journal, a fancy pen and just write. Many times, the words on the page reflect what you can't see in the mirror. Even if no one else ever sees the words, the very act of writing them provides the opportunity for release and self-reflection. Trust me on this, amigita. I call it Writing Out The Crazy. For every pent-up thought you release as you write it, you rediscover a little piece of the you you're searching for.

*Go online and buy yourself a copy of Patricia Moreno's Intensati workout on DVD. It's yoga and cardio and affirmations and it's f*cking incredible. Even if you are too busy to do it, put the DVD in anyway and just listen as you go about your day.

*Yoga mats, Enya, and Ohms. There's science to back up the benefits of meditation, suggesting reduction of anxiety and depression. My friends at Saludify.com have a great article discussing how meditation also can help reduce stress levels. Just five minutes can do wonders. Trust me on this.

*Chocolate. Or any little thing you can do for yourself as often as possible, really, to celebrate your strength. So really, chocolate about covers it. But get the good kind you savor, close your eyes when you take that bite, and enjoy the hell out of that moment. -- You deserve it.

-- P

Pauline Campos is Latina Magazine's #DIMELO advice columnist. Email her your questions at dimelo@latina.com. Connect with her on her blog, www.aspiringmama.comfacebook,instagram, and follow her on twitter: @pauline_campos.  

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