Next Steps, Lessons and Learning

“Some days your life is all about your dreams, hopes and visions for the future.  But there are some days where life is just about putting one foot in front of the other…and that’s okay.”  -Unknown

WOW, what a year 2016 was!  And to be honest, it is right in line with the rest of my life!  HA!  I have learned so much about myself, others around me and many that have exited my life in one way or another.  There has been great success, massive failure, pure joy, overwhelming pain and a lot of denial and acceptance.  I have been learning to come to terms with many things in my past, my present and to not be so concerned with the future.  I am practicing one day at a time which is a major challenge for me.  I tend to overthink everything!!  I have created more obstacles for myself from this habit than in any other way.  I have been in therapy to try and work through many of the poor practices and patterns that I developed early in life that have led me into somewhat of a breakdown for lack of other words and to be fully honest.  One of my mentors, Lori Harder, says this quote:  (I apologize, I may butcher it) If you’re living in the past, you’re depressed, if you’re living the future you’re anxious but if you’re living in the present, you’re at peace.  My goal is to be in the moment, day by day, hour by hour, down to minute by minute.  My goal is peace!

Before the breakdown, I felt it coming.  In hindsight there were a lot of signs, I just didn’t realize what the result was going to be.  My stress level was off the charts.  I decided to seek help through therapy.  When I first started therapy last year, I did not have the right connection with the therapist that I needed for effective treatment.  Maybe I just wasn’t ready, I’m not really sure.  After a couple of months seeing her, I felt we were making no headway and I stopped wasting my money.  A few months passed and after failing miserably at working through things for myself, I realized I was getting worse.  I went on a search for a new therapist.  God led me to somebody that has been incredible.  For the past few months I have been working with someone that has become my safe place; I really feel I can confide in her and I am finally having break through moments and realizations of what is going on in my head and body.  Acceptance of the reality that is and was, is key.  Learning that taking responsibility for your life, your actions and deciding that you truly want to get better is the first step on what I would consider a marathon, because it’s definitely not a quick sprint to the finish line!  Stop the pity party and accept things that have happened in the past and continue to happen in your life.  Recognize the patterns.  Take the steps to change those things you need to change in your life and watch the changes you put into action begin to make a difference.

Facing things that have happened over a lifetime can be a lot more difficult than it sounds.  If you don’t face these things, though, you end up where I have been, which is quite broken.  There were a lot of things that I didn’t even realize were as traumatic as they were, a lot I blocked out. Many daily occurrences were a lot more difficult for me to handle because I was in such a negative space.  I never realized what a wildly inappropriate life I had growing up, because while I was living it as a child, I didn’t know any different!  Even as a teenager, I could recognize that my house was different, but still didn’t realize HOW different and wrong things were.  It was rare growing up that friends were allowed to come to my house.  Obviously others realized that things weren’t “normal” in my house and parents didn’t want their kids exposed to whatever was taking place at my house.  I can’t say I blame them, when I look back on it as an adult with a daughter, I never would have allowed my daughter to go to a home with such strange things happening either.  I tell you this because this is where my feelings of isolation and inadequacy were planted.  The formative years are so difficult already; add instability at home and the feelings compound.  Confusing years become more difficult and you do the best you can, which for me, resulted in a shift to survival mode. I have lived in survival mode for the majority of my life.  I stuffed so many feelings down, didn’t DO anything about the feelings that I was having and even began blocking out some feelings all together. It became easier to have no feelings, show no emotion, other than anger.  I became a very angry teenager and a bit of a bully.  I know I hurt people that didn’t deserve to be hurt because sadly, it gave me power that I didn’t have at home.  If you were one of those people, I’m sorry.  I was tough (on the surface).  No vulnerability!!  That’s not healthy, which sounds obvious – but so many people do it anyway and eventually if you don’t deal with “it”, whatever “it” may be, you will break, like I said, and like I did.

Before you break, you’ll feel a myriad of emotions; hurt, anger, confusion. You’ll probably not be very good at relationships because you’ve guarded yourself so much.  You won’t really know what to do, where you belong or how to handle every day situations.  You will likely experience anxiety, depression and not even realize it until it’s too late.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  I was on edge every day at home and work.  The most simple of tasks became mountainous to me.  I no longer enjoyed what I was doing and I have always been very passionate about my job.  My mind was elsewhere and I didn’t know why.  My personal life was a wreck.  I was constantly biting off heads, not respecting people that are closest to me, being reckless and not respecting the life God gave me.  I felt like something was definitely wrong with me but I had no idea what or how to fix it.  I blamed it on the chronic pain I experiencing but there was a lot more to it that I didn’t realize.  I would bet that if we all stood back and looked, most of us have some of these feelings to some extent.  It’s how we deal with the feelings that will ultimately control the outcome.

I have made so many mistakes throughout my life.  Undoing mistakes is not possible as we all know.  There’s no time machine that will allow us to go back and re-do, no mulligans.  So all we can do is make amends where we can and change our behaviors.  It’s not as easy as it sounds and it’s not an overnight process!  You don’t just sit down in the chair and talk to yourself or a therapist once a week and bam – you’re all better.  It takes talking and listening, accepting what you hear and say, practicing what you’re told and ultimately like the quote I started with, put one foot in front of the other every day and take it one day at a time.  I can tell you the work is worth it. Stop living in the past and don’t worry about the future.  Today is what matters.  Who is in your life right now?  Who has been your support system recently or in the past?  Who has been there for you and who has hurt you?  Those that lift you up, let them.  Take their help, lean on them – they care.  They do it for a reason!  Don’t deny them the grace of showing you care and compassion.  It does something for them as well.  Those that hurt you, forgive them.  Forgive, but ultimately decide if they are people you would willingly accept back into your life and if you’d be able to salvage a healthy relationship.  If not, you forgive – then bless and release.  Leave them to God.  He will handle them and while you can pray for them every day, you cannot “fix” them!

Ultimately, you are in control of you and your responses to others.  Control what you can in your life.  Don’t stress about the past and don’t be anxious about the future. Live in the moment, live for today.  Thank God for the day he has given you.  Thank the Lord for the people and things he has blessed you with and be grateful.  Be mindful of how you treat others and while there is something to be said for the old saying, “treat others as you’d like to be treated”, I learned a long time ago, you can’t control or manipulate how people treat you with your behavior.  You can only control your reaction, not the overall outcome from their behaviors.  Remember, control what you can.  Do our Father proud, do yourself proud and make those around you feel appreciated and loved – no matter how they make you feel.  Love conquers all.  That, I can assure you, is true.  It doesn’t have to romantic love.  It can be parental love, cousins love, friends love, faithful love or lovers love.  But love is the most powerful emotion there is and can be used for good or bad.  Make sure you’re appreciating it and using it properly.  Give, love, trust and listen; but never, ever compromise YOU and your heart or beliefs.

As always, I am trying to build a following, please share and comment.  I want your feedback!  Is this helpful or just the ramblings of a mad woman??  I hope to see you come back and share with others!

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