Rooted in change…then and now

Transformation, alteration, renewal, metamorphosis….constant change is a certainty of this human experience.  Stubborn resistance may root us in place.  Still, the very change that surrounds will also change us.  Why resist?  We are forever becoming.

I was playing a little game with a friend, we were giving each other a number, and we had to share the photo from our phones that matched that number.  He asked to see the 10th picture of only me.

The 10th picture of only me sent me spinning with shame and embarrassment.  I could not show him this one.  However, I promised…no cheating.  Before sending the photo, I let him know that this was taken at one of the worst times of my life.  My ex-husband had just told me he no longer loved me and wanted a divorce; my precious daddy was dying after a 12 year battle with Alzheimer’s.  The picture (which is here for all the world to see) was a clear image of a lady who had no love for herself and her eyes held a deep sadness, despite the smile on her face. The only reason I share it is because I am trying to practice what I preach…vulnerability and transparency. In this moment, I also share in hopes of diminishing the pier of shame this photo holds.

This precious friend heard my shame and replied with, ‘it’s just a selfie, look at your smile’.  Then he made me laugh with a gentle joke about chipmunk cheeks.  I never thought I’d giggle looking at that picture, but I did, and it was genuine.  However, I have obsessed over that picture since.  It’s not just that I hadn’t realized how much I changed, it brought back a rush of painful memories.

I remember the day the man who was the only love I’d ever known told me he was leaving.  I was inundated with feelings of unworthiness, disposability and fear.  For some reason, I made a little video on my phone to myself.  I guess to commemorate the day.  I very clearly stated (to myself) that I wanted to learn to love myself, no matter who else loved or didn’t love me.  That my friends, is the journey of transformation I have been and am still on.

My timehop today reminded me that at this time last year, I had lost 20 pounds on Weight Watchers.  I then stopped Weight Watchers, and started doing my own thing.  It’s called the ‘keto’ish but not all the way because life is too short to not enjoy ice cream” diet.  Clean eating pretty much, low carb, very low sugar and almost no processed foods.  In doing this, I have lost another 28 pounds.  This makes 48 pounds gone!  I should be so proud.

Rather, my first reaction was “wow!, but I have so long to go.”  I began a laundry list of all the men who would like me better if I had a better body, and of how life would be different if my ass matched my sass!  (Borrowed from a favorite meme).  Somehow, I stopped myself in the middle of my negative recitation.  I wondered to myself, “what will it take for me to be good enough?”

I asked myself what I wanted.  Easy.  I want to love myself.  As is.  I want to believe I am enough and honor that deeply, no matter where I am on my journey.  I want to be excited about the work I am doing for ME while enjoying who I am right in this moment.

I want to practice gratitude, for I have so much to be grateful for.  I am here, breathing.  I am a miracle, just as we all are.  Life is the celebration!  I have two legs that are strong and lovely, and they get me where I want to go.  The gift of walking was taken away from me in 2009 and I had to relearn that skill at the age of 35.  How dare I fuss that I am not enough?  My heart is strong; it is full of love, life and laughter.  I can easily exercise on the elliptical for 35 minutes without rest.  I might not be the most graceful, but I am me and I am a masterpiece.  There is no one like me, ever, anywhere.  I am blessed in every way, I want to remember this every second of every moment of every day.

I want to realize that when someone asks me out on a date, they are every bit as lucky to have time with me as I am to have time with them.  It is not settling to be with me, it is a gift, for I am pretty damn cool.  I want to stand in this truth.  It changes my choices, it changes everything.

I want to show my kiddos who I am at my core and that we are ALL capable and worthy of beautiful, positive, transformation…their Momma included.

There is so much joy in the transformation these days…one day the pain will be nothing but a motivator for better.

 

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A list of stuff going good

Things are going good….

1) When I am craving my salad instead of chips and salsa.

2) When I am seeking a long term pay off over a momentary thrill.

3) When I see everything, even my past momentary thrills through a lens free from guilt and shame.

4) When I am combining my dreams with an intentional plan.

5) When I value forgiving myself every bit as much as I value forgiving another.

6) When I listen to my body as the ultimate guide for my health.

7) When I take time to be still with God…just to be…to pray…to study…to listen.

8) When I am flexible with my plan and open to the possibilities.

9) When I truly grasp it is not my responsibility to fix any other human being….EVER.

10) When I am equally open to the journey and the outcome and I stay aware of loving and embracing myself through it all.

11) Bonus: When I remember that “life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful”.

Growing up

I have this gut feeling that some intensely real part of me has been hibernating for years and like a baby bear coming out of a dark cave,  it’s beginning to awaken.  2019 will be my last year of grad school.  Working full time, momming, daughtering, schooling, working, interning….blah, blah, blah.  It’s going to be a whirlwind of a year!  I am amazed when I look back and see how far I’ve come (and I am overwhelmed when I see how far I have to go!)  

We humans are ever-evolving, exploring creatures.  I am in awe of our capacity for resilience and growth.  That capacity gives me hope for us all.  It especially gives me hope for myself because I dream of the day I am all grown up in the ways that matter.

Here’s what I am trying to grasp about being a grown up:

  1. Truly, other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.  I spend a great deal of energy trying to ensure that other people are happy and content.  Sometimes, I catch myself putting more energy into their well-being than they do.  Guess who pays the highest price?  
  2. Self-compassion and self-care isn’t all about bubble baths, long walks, journaling and time for me.  It also looks like the icky stuff; hard conversations that need to be had, sticking to a budget, asking for help, making the choices that don’t feel good in the moment but have a tremendous pay-off later.  That stuff counts for loving myself well too.
  3. Structure and routine are not dirty words.  I have to learn this somehow.  I hate being put in anyone’s box, including my own and find myself easily resisting what is best for me because of that.
  4. I am a grown up woman, I was made a sexual being, and that is okay.  Actually, it’s far better than okay, it is magnificently wonderful.  Labels, shame, guilt and not allowing myself to be who I was made to be is nonsense.  
  5. There are people who have wiped my tears away in the most gentle and intimate manner.  There are others who squirm away from emotion because it is uncomfortable for them.  On the lines of people….some will see my scars as beautiful as they kiss them lovingly and see the miracle of life.  Some will see those same scars as a marring of my physical body and they might say less than stellar things.  Some will see my stretch marks and mom tummy as unattractive and displeasing; some will see these things as real and soft and safe.  Some people might not see them at all.  Guess what?  Their thoughts ALWAYS have more to do with them and often nothing to do with me.  That’s a hard one to swallow when one is a master at ugly self talk, but this is truth. 
  6. My God loves me deeper, wider, bigger than I could ever imagine. I have atheist friends who think my God is a made up guy in the sky to serve no purpose but being a crutch.  I have friends who have what I consider to be rigid beliefs, as well as everyone in between.  I love them all and I hope they love me too.  We are all searching and searching is key.  Whether your answer is in logic or faith or anywhere else, it’s your journey.  This is my journey.  
  7. ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff is made to take us to a higher level.  Someday I will learn to surrender to that, trust myself, trust my God and trust the process.  Until then, I’ll keep doing my best.  Mostly.  Sometimes I will screw up in the biggest of ways.
  8. Love Wins.  Every freaking time.  Unless we choose hate.  Ick.
  9. It’s the small things that are really biggest in life.  Some of my favorite small things…When my Momma is proud of me (I know, I’m 46, but still, she’s my Mom!), when my kids surprise me with an unexpected hug, sunsets and sunrises, feeling the breeze on my bare skin, sweet kisses, coffee, yummy smells (of course)….
  10. Gratitude brightens even the darkest, dreariest days.  Drop the mask, feel what you feel…but keep the gratitude going.
  11. Be kind, gracious, loving, tender, merciful and forgiving.  At the same time, remember that boundaries are a beautiful thing and that boundaries and walls are not the same, ever.
  12. I will be unapologetically, unequivocally  me, even when it makes me squirm.  Especially when it makes me squirm.  Simply because I am uniquely, beautifully made and there is only one of me.  I love that quote, “Be you, everyone else is already taken.”  That’s so right!

The magic is in the mercy.  The gift is in the grace.  Over and over and over I fail.  Over and over and over I receive these compassions.  I am surrounded with grace giving, magic mercy making,  lovers of my heart and I am intensely blessed.

Just here

I do not consider myself to be a person who rapidly and randomly changes moods.  I have a strong preference for people (myself included) who are stable, joyful, thoughtful, compassionate, tolerant, grace-filled, merciful, humorous, insightful, wise, cherish the moment, deeply reflective about life sorts.  Those characteristics give me a sense of trust and safety; both are significant to my heart.  That being said, I have struggled this last week with all of these.

I have not externally changed moods, (I don’t think), yet inside me it’s a constant storm of ‘shoulda’s’, ‘what if’s’, and the dreaded shame and guilt tapes.  UGH!  Yes, ugh!  Here, again.  I am stuck in the belief that nothing in life is stable.  My joy is hiding in the deep.  Compassion, thoughtfulness, grace, and mercy all are abundant for others, unfortunately I haven’t saved much for myself.  It’s tough to find humor, insight, wisdom, and gratitude in the moment when one is only reflecting on what I fondly refer to as the “familiar muck”.  We all have our muck, right?  No accident that it rhymes with my favorite curse word.  (as in ‘f$*@ the muck…but for my sweet Momma I’m going to not write the word out…this time!)  I’m trying my damnedest to keep my eyes above the waves, but if you look closely ,you will see me bobbing up and down, fighting to keep treading water.  I’m kinda pooped.

Anyone who spends 30 minutes or more with me will probably figure out that I do not enjoy the negative feels.  I will deflect with humor, talk nonstop, busy myself to the point of exhaustion, and turn the conversation around to take the focus away from me purely for the purpose of not feeling my muck.  I’m quite good at this.  It helps that even strangers feel compelled to share their life stories with me, I tend to be perceived as a safe person.  Thus, when someone wants to know about me, I am a pro at getting them to tell their story instead.  I am fascinated that this trait, which will help me be a fabulous counselor, can be so detrimental to my real life.

The other night, my 12-year-old daughter and I were hanging out.  My phone rang and she started to pick it up for me (normally I am in a stupid mad rush to answer)…because…SOMEONE NEEDS ME!!! The following conversation ensued…

Me: “I don’t want you to answer,  I don’t have it in me to be a very good friend right now.”

Stella:  “You are always a good friend.  Do you mean you don’t have the energy?”

Me:  “I do mean that.  I’m teary and sad feeling and I just can’t.”

Stella: “Mom, I want you to try something, okay?  When you feel like this, why don’t you call a friend who is having a good night and get some energy from them instead of feeling bad because you can’t help them.  Sometimes you need help too.”

This is my baby girl.  She is a boundary setter galore, so much so that it takes me aback at times.  I treasure this quality in her.  I’m thankful for it.  I’m baffled by it.  She is such a natural at something I am still trying to comprehend!

Perhaps this is why writing is incredibly healing for me.  I can write and anyone can choose to read/or not read it.  I’m not ‘bothering’ anyone.  I tell my story in this manner with ease.  Vulnerability here is simple for me, even though I know people will read and may judge.  I don’t care…in written form.  When I write, I do not have to ‘receive’ anything but feedback, I can share only what I want to share and though it’s a great lot…there is so much more brewing inside.  My new promise to my readers and myself is to practice the same vulnerability that I practice in written word, face to face.  A challenge from me and for me.

That’s that!

No better time than the present to share vulnerability….  I am certain I will write more on this after I have processed a bit…something to look forward too!  I am reading “Made to Crave”, by Lysa TerKeurst.  I’ve always loved her books and knowing that she has experienced infidelity in her marriage makes me love her even more.  Anyway….doing lots of thinking on my relationship with food and wanting that relationship to be different from whatever it has been in my entire life.

Just a few days ago, I had several (I am still ashamed) handfuls of Oreo’s for dinner.  As in over 1/2 of a box several.  The shame lies in the fact that I ate them as if I were desperately hungry, like I  hadn’t eaten in days. I didn’t even enjoy them.  (They were Oreo thins and why overeat Oreo’s if they don’t even have the good gooey artificial crack like stuff in the middle?)  Also, I had no milk.  What a waste.

I NEVER would’ve eaten cookies or anything else with that kind of animatistic drive if someone was watching.  I did it in secret.  I did it to stuff something I did not want to feel.  (Remember, I said I do not like the mucky feels).  I know that like any addict, I am comforted by my source in the moment.  I think my source is sugar.  There is a numbness that accompanies the comfort, again, in the moment.

I’ve been praying about this, and something hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks.  I have probably acknowledged ‘around this’ many times, but this time provided a deeper truth than I have ever felt surface.  Do I eat in secret only to numb?  Do I eat in desperation only for comfort? Do I stuff myself until I feel nauseous to stuff my feelings way down?  Yes, yes and yes.  Wait!  There’s more.  Here it is… (drumroll would be cool except this thought is anything but cool).

I EAT TO PUNISH MYSELF.  It’s a brilliant form of self-flagellation.  It is in the moment that I choose to overeat, ‘self-medicate’, stuff, numb, comfort; in that moment, I am feeling an overwhelming sense of shame and guilt for ‘whatever’ it is on my mind.  It could be a multitude of ‘whatever’s’, and that is what I will save for another post. I stuff myself with food (‘bad’ food, not ‘good’ food) and then I can feel even more guilt and shame for making such a miserable, hopeless choice.  All of the diets in the world are useless when the desire to diminish the feelings is stronger than the desire to heal.

This is a gigantic AHA for me.  I must figure out what to do with my new discovery.  I hate the way this knowledge makes me feel.  It makes me feel dirty and ashamed.  I’m  flooded with uncomfortable, ugly memories and truth. I have been praying for endless ‘something’s different’ and my relationship with food is among the top five, it wasn’t coincident that this my eyes have been opened to this revelation.   What to do?  I guess I’m going to sit in the discomfort for a ‘moment’ and prayerfully seek direction so that I may continue on the road to healing.  Life begins outside of our comfort zone, right?

I do not consider myself to be a person who rapidly and randomly changes moods.  Oh but my deepest desire is that my insides are always congruent with my outsides.  Stable, joyful, thoughtful, compassionate, tolerant, gracious, merciful, humorous, insightful, wise, moment cherishing and reflective….I’m going to be these for myself even amidst the muck.  These are part of my soul.  Don’t worry, I won’t desert me.