Making Peace with Loneliness During the Holidays Pt. 2

Last year I wrote Emotional Loneliness + The Holidays and it was one of my most read articles. This might be because family is one of those topics we always come back to, and the love/hate pulls are so strong. While last year I was very (proudly!) single and in a stable job, this year I’m in transition between cities and jobs, and I brought home a partner I’m just crazy about. What I found this year was that despite my relationship status, regression to a less mature version of myself around family is definitely going to happen, and honestly, having a partner doesn’t change the inner child triggers that flare up. To quote last year’s article, this regression stems …


4 Signs You Are Codependent and 4 Signs You Are Not

Two months ago, I quit my job. The 2+ years leading up to that decision were survival mode since my divorce: get a new job, figure out finances, move 3x! I was excited for a little break. Despite my enthusiasm, once my break came, all I could do was squirm and complain. I’d never experienced this kind of depression before. It wasn’t the agony I was used to. Depression felt like this constant companion, hanging out right beneath the surface of my words and actions, never screaming, but stifling my motivation for life. What was happening? There were no external voices to tell me what to do, that I was doing a good job, that I was on the right …


The 7 Worst Marriage (+ Preparing for Marriage) Tips I’ve Ever Received

  1. No one knows what they’re doing in marriage – so just jump right in! THIS WAS REAL ADVICE I RECEIVED. And I can’t be too judgmental because, well, I did this. It is partly true. We can’t fully know what two people’s lives becoming one is really like until we’re in it.  BUT (BIG BUT HERE) there’s a lot we can know. The first phase of any relationship is characterized by complete fantasy. All we have are the attraction chemicals bubbling up from a childhood place drawing us to this person. Our conscious adult brains like to give our feelings logic, so we place all the fantasies we’ve ever had about a love interest on this person, because …


3 Rules for Casual Dating (If You Don’t Want to Fall in Love with EVERYONE)

At some point in our dating lives, we all must undergo a rude awakening: We can fall in love with anyone. This push-pull of falling for someone we KNOW is wrong for us is the tension Mark Manson talks about in his blog, “F* Your Feelings.” His basic premise is that emotions stem from our choices, and our choices are based on one of two motivations: The Choice feels good. The Choice is something we believe to be good or right. When a choice is based on both of those motivations, sweet! When these two things don’t align, though, cognitive dissonance arises, and our brain does everything it can to rectify it. [[Cognitive dissonance: “a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs …


Decision Paralysis + Codependency: When My Emotions Depend on Your Emotions

This week has been a metaphorical ringer. Work stress. Relationship stress. Family stress. Home stress. STRESS STRESS STRESS! You know those weeks where you wake up every morning in a panic like you’ve dropped the ball on something major? If you didn’t know – I do not preach meditation because I’m oh so peaceful, I preach meditation because I’m pretty sure it’s already saved me from early onset high blood pressure. A huge struggle this week has been the need to make important choices amidst difficult circumstances. The reason choices are so hard, particularly during stressful seasons, is because there’s often not a right or wrong answer. Most choices come with a slew of positive and negative repercussions that need …


How Awkward First Dates Are a Path for Growth

These past few years have been a motor speedway of personal growth, the conduit being not only a ton of therapy but also destiny-driven personal interactions that left serious imprints. One date in particular was rather surreal, mostly because I was immediately uncomfortable sitting there. This date reminded me of pain from past relationships. I, unknowingly, had written off traditionally religious guys, associating similar traits to being hurt in the same ways I had been before. My subconscious mind kept me safe from those kinds of guys, protecting me from ever being like that again. The hour we sat there became weirdly healing as this guy began to disprove every assumption I placed on him. I thought a traditionally religious …


How To Tell When You’re Saying Yes To Your Worth and NO to Boundary-Stomping Jerks

This year, I’ve met a number of flighty, unreliable types. They chat you up, and they’re super flirtatious. It kinda feels like they create chemistry with everything. Initially, all your warning signs are screaming, “f*** boy/girl, stay away,” but then you find out the guy/girl is kind of creative, or they say something to make you feel special, and you’re in. One date couldn’t be so bad, right?! They ask you on a date (sort of). They don’t really set a time, or a day, and then they text you around the time you sort of agreed on but never finalize plans. A MILLION RED FLAGS. A. MILLION. I know this is a little sad, but the old Ilsa would …


Marriage Is Hard – Guest Blogger + My Mom, Elizabeth Carroll

If I’m being honest, and I am honest to a fault, my marriage is hard right now. Jim and I were married ten years ago and enjoyed an extended five-year honeymoon. Utter, unrealistic bliss! My daughters found us sickening! I think God knew we’d need a season of bliss to look back on because He knows our wounds and they are deep. Deep wounds make it easy to blame and  give up. DON’T. My therapist says that our marriage is providential, meaning that God meant for Jim and I to be together. He is my perfect storm and I am his. He is my iron sharpening iron. I freaking hate it. I want my bliss back!!! Bliss Breaker At year …


Healing from Heartbreak, Betrayal, and Loving the Lonely

Have you ever done something stupid out of loneliness? Spent way too much money on clothes or food, drank too much, abused a substance, kissed a random? I have. The typical aftermath? Shame.hangover. In the midst of a shame hangover, when my inner voice is screaming, “Darn it, Ilsa,” these are the things I preach to myself: There is total compassion for whatever happened. For whatever reason, we needed to experience and learn from that thing we did in response to our loneliness. Trust me – there’s always a lesson. I will not succumb to the lie of shame that bubbles up in an effort to keep me isolated and small. I will reach out to people who love me, …


The People We Attract + Why – Unfinished Business Part 2

The primary foundation of attraction and chemistry are tied to our unfinished business + imago match. (Read More Here) To remind us of these concepts: Unfinished business: our unconscious search for the mate that will right the wrongs of our imperfect childhoods. Imago match: someone who carries the traits of what survival looked like for us in childhood, most likely a combination of traits from our childhood caretakers. The final piece of the attraction puzzle is self-esteem, which is defined as “confidence in one’s value as a human being correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction.” While I like to define these three concepts separately, they are, in practice, totally intertwined. Our imago match will carry our unfinished business from …