What does self-love look like when you have gone through significant changes in your life? That answer will be different for everyone. In the last year I have experienced grief, depression, anxiety, liberation, joy – and now, I’m working on contentment. Sometimes I felt all of these in one day. Sometimes I spend entire evenings tucked in bed with little desire to emerge again. Sometimes I would get so energized to start something new (like the Yoga program I bought) just to let it sit on a shelf with a million excuses for why I couldn’t get myself to actually start. I went into survival mode. I threw myself into tireless hours of work to distract me from what was going on. I kept telling myself that tomorrow would be better, if I could just get through today.
A few weeks ago, I had enough. No more looking back. Acceptance for where I was. Time was only passing me by and it was time I got myself together. So here I am. My therapist has been encouraging me to practice self-love for months, it was a foreign concept for me. How do you redefine your life when all you know is to be a servant to others? Life was all about my children… my past relationship… my need to provide and support my household… “figuring it out”. Pushing myself to find solutions even when I had no idea what those were. What do you do when your most thought out plans crumble and you have to start over completely?
It has been a journey, one that came with a lot of tears and self-doubt. One that came with constant reminders that I wasn’t strong enough to do this. Constant internal dialog of, “I’m trying” when feeling inadequate and listing my short-falls. Guess what? Those thoughts are liars. One more therapist quote, “you aren’t trying, you are doing!” He wasn’t wrong. Let me say, there is nothing wrong with trying. Or surviving. Or feeling completely over your head. But – don’t let yourself sit in that forever. Let yourself start dreaming of thriving. Sit down and write out goals in different areas of your life. A few months ago I went through this exercise and it was eye opening that my 1 year goals weren’t that unobtainable. No, quite the opposite! I was already making baby steps towards them, I just didn’t stop to recognize the progress I was making everyday, even in survival mode.
So, here are the ways I’m focusing on my next chapter. I realized I had to be ready to step forward and get to this point. I had to process, to grieve, and to accept myself to reach this place that I could start growing. It started with, yes, a therapist. I think everyone can benefit from one of these at one point or another in life. I’m no exception. He has given me coping skills to recognize my emotional health, sit in those feelings, and kick my brain out of them and look ahead. It has been months and I feel mentally stronger than I have been in a long time. I still cry. I still doubt myself. I still feel frustrated with the things that set me back. But I also know how to pull myself out of (a lot of it) much sooner. It doesn’t set me back for days in my bed or just going through the motions numb anymore.
Second – I pulled out a book. When is the last time I sat down and read? Gosh, not since I have had my kids! Well with the exception of reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover (which by the way, is a recommended read for anyone wanting to take control of their financial well-being). Aside from that, if it isn’t required for work, I haven’t prioritized it. Last week, I picked up a book I had sitting around for 2 years called Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. Yes, I too have a lot of internal lies in my inner monologue that I need to stop believing. I could use a little affirmation and a kick in the pants to move forward, and this is a simple read book that uses some humor and real talk to do just that.
Focus on positive relationships. This one has been harder for me… I picked up and moved cross country last spring, I’m virtually employed, and now we have all been keeping to ourselves amongst COV19. Trying to social distance in a time where I already don’t have a real circle of people physically near me has been difficult. I’m trying to be more digitally connected. I’m soaking up time with my family. Im focused on involving positive people in my life more. I can’t continue to work excessively and not cultivate the relationships in my life – it just isn’t fulfilling long-term. So, this is a current focal point for me, and as life eventually resumes to normal, I want to spent more time out, making some new friends here in my new home state, and plan activities and days out. You don’t truly realize how much you miss interacting with people until you are locked up in your house 24/7 and told not to go out. I live in rural country. Going to the nearby town to grocery shop feels like a night on the town at this stage!
Lastly, remember that yoga program I mentioned above? I’m pulling it out. I am back to my bullet journal and I’m not going to stop until this 12 week program is done. Then I have 5 more monthly workouts to run through. And then? I don’t know… but I need healthy habits for my mind, body, and soul. I can’t neglect my body in the midst of caring for the other two.
There is no right way to heal and process major changes, but this is my current place. Maybe I will get back to my blog too, now that I’ve opened the gate. I am a modern mama, after all – that didn’t change because life got cloudy for a while. Consider this my hello message, all over again. One day I will be back to my craft stuff on Instagram… but today I’m back to writing. Thanks for hanging in there despite my silence. I’m looking ahead as a better version of myself, and I’m excited to see where I go from here.