Blank Slate

Dear Self,

Sometimes I pray to a God I don’t consistently believe in, but where the notion makes me feel less crazy about speaking into air. Today, we’re simply going to talk it out between ourselves. It has been far too long since we’ve composed anything, so let’s get to it.

I know you’re tired and lost. I know you might be a bit depressed and overwhelmingly perplexed. I know life isn’t what you envisioned it would be by this point, but don’t you ever forget to count your blessings and be thankful for what you have in each and every moment.

I realize you put a great deal of pressure on yourself and all the areas of your life; at work and at home and in general. Keep striving, but don’t be so quick to surmise you’re worthless because you choose to compare yourself to everything you aren’t. In darkness, recall positives. Stop the negative tapes. They only make it worse.

Let go of the past. Every piece which doesn’t serve you constructively. You aren’t, nor will you ever be, who you once were. Aging is part of life. We can fight it, try to improve upon it, but you’ll never look the way you did at eighteen at the age of forty-two. However, you could look even better. Food for thought, huh?

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I’ve never shared this photograph publicly, especially not on an outlet where the entire world can view it. Yet here I am, venturing out of my comfort zone today. It was captured in March of 2006 when I was thirty years old. The picture is twelve years old. Yes, when I see it, it makes me cringe. It’s uncomfortable to look at someone I hated, a life I wished to leave. In a sense, I did leave that life. Simply not in the originally contemplated approach. Which is a huge accomplishment. I didn’t just give up. No, instead I fought harder. I made myself a priority. And it worked out.

I’m not a man so I cannot speak to their size difficulties. I am a woman and I know how society views me when I fail to fit the “beauty mold”. I’ve been conditioned to believe men don’t seek large women; they aren’t physically appealing. My first marriage solidified this idea for me. When one is repeatedly told they’re worthless, that no one else would want them, it becomes an imprint. I became a robot, going through the motions without much feeling as it was easier. Until one day I woke up. Regardless of the size of my body, I am still a good woman. This paved the way for me to find the courage to leave a bad marriage in favor of an opportunity to give myself the life I believed I deserved.

It was not easy. I lived in motels with my young kids until my name topped a list for affordable housing. Even then, it still wasn’t easy. I had very little but it was enough to keep me motivated. I found a new boyfriend. I thought everything was going to be happily ever after.

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Anything worthwhile takes time. In less than two years I transformed myself into the person above. I was thirty-two years old. I ate healthy and went to the gym at least five days a week. I grew my hair out and dyed it black. I had more energy. I felt better about myself. I learned to care for my kids while taking care of myself. I lost one hundred twenty-five pounds; no surgery, no gimmicks. I threw out all my “fat clothes” and embraced myself. I felt proud and appreciated. It was truly a wonderful time and a place which I hadn’t pleasured since college.

However, smiles occasionally hide sadness. During the next six years I continued to struggle with self-image issues. If I gained weight, I felt like a failure. If I lost weight, I feared eating anything since it might tip the scale. Like addicts often swap one addiction for another, I swapped differing items to gauge my sense of worth. When I felt bad I wanted to medicate myself with food. It was a coping mechanism I learned as a child.

Life is one non-stop journey; always hurdles to jump and issues to face. The problem is when one pops up, I frequently lack the fortitude to come out completely intact. A close friend of mine died in a tragic accident, then my dad died. In January 2012 my father-in-law (the paternal grandfather of my kids) lost his battle with brain cancer. All the loss left me reeling from emotional pain. I wasn’t sure what direction I should go in and I began to question everything I had done since the inception of my physical changes. Sure, I looked decent, but inside I didn’t feel well.

Pressure and confusion led me to end my five-year relationship. It was a tough choice, actually, but I was no good to anyone in my state. I was alone for the first time in over a decade. I had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. I was desperate to rediscover myself and reconnect to my roots, although I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant.

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This was me only six short years ago. I was thirty-six years old and my life altered again; older kids and another new boyfriend. I felt as if I could conquer the world! I was truly happy and excited and enthusiastic about the future. With new goals and aspirations I was invigorated to walk my next path. For about a year I clung to these inspirations. Until they ceased.

Because somehow I lost my balance. I began specifically doing for others and putting myself last. I allowed old wounds to open and new ones to form. I’m bitter. I’ve stopped talking. I’m easily aggravated and frustrated. I find very little joy in anything I do. I’m angry at circumstances I can’t control, but at the same time I can’t seem to let them go. I’m stressed and maybe even a little scared. As a result, I’m currently not very fond of myself.

I had to deal with an unexpected kid trauma several years ago. I’m grateful the scenario has improved, but it isn’t solved. Likely won’t be for a couple more years. Or maybe never. Every morning I try so hard to wake with a positive mind but when good morphs into bad, it sucks and it’s so hard! I don’t know right from wrong and I constantly second-guess myself. I worry about my ability as a mother; something I never worried about before. I lay awake at night trying to piece the puzzle together and no matter how I maneuver the frame, something is still missing at the end.

I am an adult but the child of a parent. I’m struggling to help and to be honorable, but it is so lonely when you’re doing it all alone. This pit in my stomach has me beckoning my Dad for guidance I know I won’t receive. He’s gone. So it’s up to me. I never asked to suffer consequences of circumstances from before I was even born, but sometimes that also becomes a component of life. A piece of me wants to pack up and run away…but in those moments I recognize my father didn’t raise me to be a quitter. So I keep going. And praying to whatever, whoever, may listen.

I am extremely stubborn. It is a characteristic which has both served me and been a disservice to me. I rarely request assistance because most of the time when I do, it doesn’t occur [for whatever reason]. Therefore I have become my own support system. Words with well-meaning are nice, but actions are often better. There have been many positions I never imagined I would traverse, but I did. I’m so tired of excuses and of bullshit. Alas, I am not an easy person to be around; I’m opinionated and headstrong. I have a bad habit of nagging. I have high expectations, but only because I likewise hold myself with high expectation. I work hard and I guess I feel others should, as well. I believe much of existence involves teamwork. People lament there’s no “I” in team, which is why I’m amazed when I’m left in a league of my own.

I honestly don’t enjoy complaining…but at times I need to vent.

34859909_10212847362120154_3622843886709243904_nThe most useful contribution of social media technology is the invention of “filters”. They allow us to erase imperfections and look like we’re ready to walk the runway. Some people really don’t need them. Their beauty exists without bunny ears and precisely placed freckles. Some of us on the other hand…such as my current Facebook profile picture. I look nothing like it in real life.

Above is me now. No filter, other than that which captures a face in a camera frame and quality natural lighting. I am fifty-three pounds heavier than I was six years ago. I don’t wear shorts because it gives me anxiety. I haven’t been to a beach or gone swimming in three years. I don’t permit pictures to be taken of me because I feel horrible about myself. I try extra hard to be nice to customers I wait on because I feel ugly and somehow hope a nice personality will earn me a decent tip. I hate going shopping and I dislike getting ready to go out. I almost wish I could hide inside forever. My heart knows I’m more than my weight but my head keeps me captive.

I understand this blog is all over the place, a plethora of negativity, and won’t go down as one of my best. But stay tuned…I’m changing it up effective immediately.

If life has taught me anything, it’s that I become my best when I’m at my worst. When I’m nervous and vulnerable and brutally honest with myself. When I can’t even find the tunnel, let alone a light at the end of it. When I feel most like giving up is generally when I produce my most immense courage.

The physical changes I made many years ago did not manifest from sitting around engrossed in a pity party. They didn’t happen overnight. It took a hefty amount of sweat and of self-control. It involved highs and lows and many plateaus. I slipped and I fell and I got up and I kept on going. Small steps set the pace to discover avenues for various changes, and to then sew the seam straight. The package was delivered by me, for me, because of me. I’m strongest when I’m at my weakest.

12651351_10206170760289281_7973945014332884286_nHere I am at eighteen years old, with the most amazing man I will ever know. Back then I thought I knew everything. Little did I know, our plans don’t always pan out. Life isn’t fair because it teaches us how to persevere. We make mistakes so life can teach us how to overcome obstacles. We take two steps forward and then take three backward so we learn not to take the good for granted. We grow and we mature and we change and we always have the ability to begin again.

  • Balance is not about ignoring one thing for another. It involves every aspect of what we cherish and deducting priorities appropriately.
  • I am not more or less important than others. I can do one because it brings me peace and do for myself because it will bring me solace.
  • I will lick all my wounds and watch the scars fade. They are reminders of battles I’ve encountered and lessons I’ve accumulated.
  • Bitter is a taste best left to the cluster of buds on my tongue. It serves no further purpose.
  • I will begin to talk once more. Even if no one listens.
  • My aggravation and frustration is not a result of outside influences but rather due to dissatisfaction in myself.
  • I will strive to find little joys. They are more beneficial than the absence of any joy.
  • I will throw my hands up and wave the white flag at my anger. It’s too draining to be mad all the time.
  • Stress will exist as long as I breathe. The trick is to seek more eustress instead of distress.
  • Fear can tear me down or build me up. The choice is mine. The future is my creation.

Henceforth, I begin with a blank slate. A chance to start over and make the coming weeks and months the next “first days” of my life story. It worked before, and with the same process, shall work one more time. With a lot of faith, some love for myself, and a bit of what my name means…who knows what’s possible…

“You leave home, you move on, and you do the best you can. I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am.”

Miranda Lambert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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