Nothing is more beautiful than a smile that has struggled through tears- Demi Lovato
I am not a licensed therapist or professional. These lessons are of my own opinion and what worked for me. If you are struggling and need professional help, please get help and if you are having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-8255 and speak to an expert.
If you didn’t get to read my post on grief and loss and you can do that here. I was in a dark place, and it has only been over the last few months that I feel I have been able to see what worked and what didn’t work to get me where I am today. And my work isn’t over; it is a conscious choice to continue working on the best version of myself every day. I want to share what is working, what didn’t work, and the grey area between how I got to where I am today.
A Little More Background on Me
I knew I wanted to be married from a young age, have kids, and live happily ever after. I spent the majority of my life trying to fit into that mold. Do you know the definition of insanity? Repeating the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. That is how I have approached my relationships. Instead of figuring out who I was and why I made the choices I did, I just kept trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
A boatload of shame, a shit ton of embarrassment, and lots of poor choices have led me to where I am today and why I can finally write about my lessons learned. I take full responsibility for my part in the failures of my life, finally. For a long time, I just buried the failures, made jokes about myself, and happily kept repeating the same fffffing mistakes. Now that you have a little background, here are the lessons…
I Had to Own My Shit and Do the Work
I am a big proponent of therapy. The two therapists that I have seen helped me unpack a lot of my shit. I am not sure why there is a stigma around seeking help to better yourself. My therapists were great objective listeners who were able to guide me through my journey. I did the hard work. I had to face some painful truths, make tough decisions, and set boundaries with essential people in my life.
Finding a good therapist is priceless. Going to therapy isn’t a life sentence. It depends on you and the amount of work your willing to do for yourself!
Then I Had to Grieve
In September of 2015, I attended a grief workshop called loving spirit. The creator of the loving spirit is Dayle Spencer. She is an incredible woman who created the workshop to deal with her grief journey when her daughter unexpectedly died from the flu. The two-day workshop was beneficial in giving me tools to process my grief.
For a long time, I believed that grief only applied to the death of a person in your life. Through this workshop, I learned that grief is a loss of more than life. I was able to identify many areas of loss in my life that I had never grieved. I left the workshop feeling open, raw, and sad. But I also left the weekend with several different tools to help me heal.
Moving Forward and Forgiveness
I eventually bought my place and created a beautiful space for me and my little man. This time alone has given me a chance to focus on me, being a mom, and taking an honest look at my past. I am not looking in the rearview mirror to romanticize my past or longing to relive the moments. I use it as my guide to understanding why I made the choices I did and learned the lessons. Most importantly, I am learning to forgive myself for my mistakes. I screwed up and made choices that I held myself accountable to.
Creating a Cushion Through Chemistry
I was talking to a good friend who was also in a bad place. We talked about my life, and I was sharing with her my lack of sleep, endless crying, etc… She asked if I had considered medication. What? No way I told her I didn’t need meds; those are for other people. She explained that they would help give me a cushion so I could get my shit together. Well, when you describe it like that, it makes perfect sense. I reached out to my Dr. and went on medication for my anxiety and depression for a while, and they gave me that cushion to let me figure out my crap; it was the beginning of what turned into a 2-year journey.
Through the difficult times in my life, I was able to identify my tribe. Words seem inadequate when describing how important they have become along my journey, from my girlfriends, co-workers, and unexpected people along the way. The amount of love and support showed by my people helped pull me along.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends. Trust me; it is OK to open yourself up and be vulnerable. One of my good guy friends sent me a text message every few days to check in on me. Priceless.
Rediscovering What I Love
Reading, writing, traveling, music, and fitness. Reading is an escape for me, but after my son was born, I found I couldn’t read. I wasn’t able to focus. It turns out that is a sign of depression and grief. It’s how your brain protects itself. So being able to read again was a sign that I was recovering.
Here are a few books that impacted me in my dark days:
- Rising Strong, Brene Brown,
- Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle
- Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Neiquist
- The Shack, by William P. Young
Each of these books shares an essential message about owning who you are true to yourself and staying present in the moment.
Writing has always been a love of mine. I started my first journal when I was 14. I stopped writing when I met my ex-husband. He read one of my travel journals before we got married, and then, the day I filed for divorce, he read ten years’ worth of my journals. I have never felt more violated in my life. It took some time to find the courage to write again, but I won’t give it up ever again.
Music is my first real love. I have a diverse collection of music ranging from classical to gangster rap. Music is the soul of the universe, and I love that I can hear a song and go back to the moment in my life when I first listened to the song.
I am well-traveled, and I LOVE adventure. I rationalized that I was ok with no longer traveling because I had been to so many cool places. Not the case. I am a gypsy soul, and travel is part of my DNA. I am not willing to stop going on adventures, and I am excited that my little man is the same way. He is a great travel buddy!
Everything. I am now three years post-divorce, 20 pounds lighter, a better mom, friend, daughter, and sister. I laugh more, have better boundaries and confidence. The work never ends, but the work is manageable.
How Can My Journey Help You?
Coming out of a dark place is SCARY. Essentially you are reborn. But here is the best part about being reborn as an adult… YOU have a lot of control over who you are going to be. During one of my therapy sessions, I shared with the Dr. that I had a dream of being pregnant, and I was going into delivery just before I woke up. She told me that it sounds like I was getting ready to give birth to a new version of myself. What a liberating thought!
- Get Help
- Medication may be the answer, even short-term.
- YOU ARE NOT ALONE
- Find what you love
- Rely on your tribe