New Year, Same Me

During the time of year when “New Year, New Me” bullshit is plastered all over social media news feeds and the whole world is shouting at us all of the ways we need to change I have a radical declaration to make… “New Year, Same Me.”

Why this declaration you may ask? Because I am enough.

Humans have an obsession at this time of year with how we need to change. As a person who has spent most of the last year and a half learning to love myself for who I am (no small feat after a lifetime of self-doubt and self-hate) this kind of environment used to set me up for a spiral. I would spend the last week or two of December thinking of all of the ways I was not enough and nit-picking the things I needed to change to be “better”. To fit in. To be more liked and accepted. To make sure nobody knew how broken and hurt I was deep down inside.

But no more. I have decided to love the person that I am, no matter the cracks and broken pieces. Rough edges and all. All of the therapy and self discovery
I have done has led me to see that the things that I thought had broken me have actually made me into the person that I am. I have learned that all of the things I used to look at as liabilities can actually be considered strengths in the right circumstances with the proper amount of work and love. That I am strong and amazing and have so much to offer. That I am a fierce fucking warrior. And that anyone who doesn’t like me for me is not my kind of people and that I need not waste my time or energy on them. Life is too fucking exhausting already without chasing other people’s approval.

I do not need to change who I am. Not for anyone.

Lest you think I have some false sense of self-perfection let me say something else. I am a work in progress. Though I do not want to change who I am at my core I do want to keep working on being the best and healthiest me I can be. While my experiences and my life have shaped who I am I can still work on healthier reactions to situations and better coping mechanisms for the tough times. I can still decide who I do or do not want in my life. I can choose to surround myself with people that enrich my life instead of make it more painful and difficult. I can choose to nourish my body in a healthy way and I can choose to stay healthy both physically and emotionally. Changing habits is not changing who I am.

So as is often the case it is a matter of balance. I will continue to work to find that balance to make the tweaks to be the healthiest me without compromising and changing who I am. It is difficult sometimes but it is absolutely worth it.

I found this quote today:

“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving” Kim McMillen

So my advice to you and myself this year is don’t make any resolutions to change. Make a resolution to love yourself for who you are. If you do that then all the good stuff will follow. You don’t need to change a damn thing because you are pretty fucking great just the way you are. You just don’t realize it.

You are enough. You are so fucking enough.

And don’t you forget it.

Love to you all. The unconditional kind.

 

 

 

Greasy Fingerprints of Kindness

I came across this the other day:

You might think that you don’t matter in this world, but because of you,

someone has a favorite mug to drink their tea out of that you bought them.

Someone hears a song on the radio and it reminds them of you.

Someone has read a book you recommended to them and gotten lost in its pages.

Someone’s remembered a joke you told them and smiled to themselves on the bus.

Never think you don’t have an impact.

Your fingerprints can’t be wiped away from the little marks of kindness that you’ve left behind.

Yesterday I had a chance to catch up a little with an old friend. He used to be my best friend but life and our mental illnesses happened and for many different reasons we haven’t talked in nearly a year. But the visit was nice and much needed and left me feeling really good about a situation that has given me much anxiety and a lot of bad feelings for a really long time. I felt healed. And it only took a year. Feelings are especially fucking hard for some of us.

The point, though, is that even though I had bad feelings about this friend his fingerprints of kindness were still on my heart over the last year and always will be. One of my favorite songs is a song that he recommended to me. A song that made him feel all the feels even in the dark times when the feels were hard to feel. And every time I hear it I think of him and feel a little happier. Or at least I feel something, which if you have struggled with depression you know is a welcome thing. And when I am having an especially hard time I intentionally play it and I think of why I love it and why I love him. That is a gift he gave me that will be with me always.

There are many other things that remind me of him daily. Good things mostly. And the more I started thinking about this particular friend the more I realized how true that passage is. Our interactions with people leave a mark. Whether it is a gift or a trinket we gave them, an experience we shared, a joke we told, a kindness we did. We leave our mark. And somewhere out there someone is probably thinking of you fondly. Every day.

So never forget you matter. Just by being human and having relationships and interacting with people you leave a mark. And you are important. To someone but probably to many.

So today do something to leave a fingerprint of kindness in somebody’s life. I try to do things like this as often as I can. Send a card, bake a treat, text someone a cheesy joke, tell someone you love them, or if you see something you know a friend would totally dig buy it for them (or send them a picture of it if you can’t afford it because really it is the thought that counts).

Cover people’s lives with the kind of greasy fingerprints of kindness that they have to scrub like fuck to get off.

Leave your mark of love.

And if you can’t do that today because you are just too tired maybe try to see some of the fingerprints that have been left on your life by others. It will help you to remember it is worth it to keep going.

Consider this your pep talk of the day.

Love to you all, the unconditional kind

p.s. The song is Cloud Cult “There’s So Much Energy in Us”. Check it out here and consider it my little gift to you for today: Best Song Ever

 

 

 

My Favorite Love Story

Wednesday was my 20th wedding anniversary. If I had one wish for every single person on this planet it is that they could have a person in their life like my partner. Whether it is a friend, a spouse, a family member, at least one person like my Dana.

Dana and I got married very young and our relationship started when I was deep in the trenches of the trauma that would shape the rest of my life and mental health problems. When we were dating he would often be on the phone with me as I cried myself almost to sleep each night. That should have been a sign for him to run the fuck away as fast as he could but he was young and kinda dorky (in the most charming possible way) and maybe just didn’t think he could do better (he definitely could have).

I moved out of my house when I was 17 to live with him (and escape) and we were married the month after I graduated high school. I was not pregnant, just in case you were wondering (there is no judgement in that statement it is just that is usually the look I get from people when I tell them I got married at 18 years old). We were mostly happy and we were in love.

Our marriage has not been easy. Marriage never is. My sister got sick during our first year of marriage and died just before our first anniversary. So on top of the trauma I was working on pushing way down deep as a way to cope and move on and start my new happily ever after there was the new fun of some pretty extreme grief. This was all new territory for Dana.

Now don’t get me wrong, his life was by no means a fairy tale but he had it pretty good. He had pretty great parents, no trauma or abuse, he had never really lost anyone super close to him. He had a pretty normal life. Now he was thrown into this marriage with the complete opposite. And on top of that I had no idea how bad it really was. I had mostly lived a life where I went minute to minute and never really dealt with anything. In order to make it to the next thing and make it through I just had to leave all of the bad stuff accumulating behind me. There was no time to deal, I was just in survival mode. If I slowed down enough to actually think about what was happening and the emotional fallout of all that bullshit I would have killed myself a long time ago.

So we went on with our lives. I buried my feelings, I buried my grief. I occasionally brought it up but Dana just didn’t seem to get it and how could he? In fact I was sort of happy that he didn’t. But I felt a little alone. I mostly kept stuff to myself unless it got really bad but when we talked about things he just couldn’t get it and didn’t seem to want to try and it made me sad. I think he used to be one of those people who thinks depression is just sadness. You just have to be happy. Count your blessings. Be thankful. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Hell I used to be like that too. I thought “Well I survived all the shit I survived and turned out okay (spoiler alert, WRONG!) why can’t everybody else?” So little by little I talked to him about it less and less. And buried it a little deeper.

Fast forward to the last 3 years or as I like to call it my own personal hell. Things got worse. And worse. And worse for me. I started having mini breakdowns. They became more and more often and less and less mini. He still didn’t get it. I made some new friends. Ones that understood it more. I turned to them more and to Dana less. I thought that was okay, as long as I had someone who understood I didn’t have to burden him with the shit he didn’t understand. But then things got so bad. Like I pretty much checked out of life bad. You would have to be blind not to see that things were clearly not okay.

Things are a little blurry at this time in my life but eventually the word depression came up. I sent him a couple links to blogs, to articles and he read them. And one night as I was crying on the couch wanting to die his language changed. It was a simple statement. “I don’t know how you feel but I can imagine that must be so hard”. Fuck. He had never said anything like that ever in our marriage. It had always been I can’t understand. He couldn’t get past the fact that it made no sense to him. A totally normal reaction by the way. When it comes to emotions Dana is pretty simple. He feels one at a time and handles them pretty well. I am at any given time feeling 43 different emotions simultaneously and I have emotions that there are not even words to describe. We are polar opposites in this way. But with that one statement it showed me he was TRYING to understand. I have never felt so seen and heard. So loved.

From here I eventually started therapy. He showed genuine interest after each of my sessions. He still didn’t understand and didn’t always deal with the emotional fallout of each session well, but he tried. He communicated with me and asked what he could do to make me feel loved. When my therapist assigned books he read them too. He talked to the kids about what I was going through. He talked to me more often. He read so much literature about depression and mental illness. He educated himself and he changed the way he thought about it. The way he talked about. His language became more compassionate, more understanding, more loving. When things got so dark that meds seemed like the only other option before I ended my life he fully supported me. No judgement. He offered to go to my appointment with me. He encouraged me to start this blog. To share my experiences. And even though I often share things that are very personal and I worry about how that will reflect on him he fully supports me in my honest bravery.

His love turned from feeling to action. Don’t get me wrong, Dana has always showed love. He has always made love a verb. That is how our family lives. But he brought that kind of love to a thing that he previously didn’t understand. He channeled his energy into educating himself and making damn sure I knew I was loved and needed and had value. It is still hard for him but he makes the effort. He spends time always trying to understand it more. To show me how important I am to him. He has become my person.

A few months ago. Dana decided to look into the crisis text line. He wanted to help more people. He went through training and once a week he volunteers time to helping people in crisis. You guys I am so fucking proud of him I don’t have the words for it. In the last couple of years he has gone from a person who didn’t really believe depression was real to a person on the front likes of stopping the stigma and helping those in crisis. He is my hero. He gives me so much hope.

I often used to say that Dana saved my life. He got me out of the trauma I was experiencing as a teen. He rescued me then. White knight style. But that was not the only time. He saves me every day with his love. With his compassion. With his willingness to be uncomfortable and to constantly learn more. He doesn’t always do it right, I mean who does? But he is always trying to be better. He is always trying to understand more. And he is getting better at learning that when there are no words and no way to understand he can just hold me and let me cry and just physically be here for me. He is still my hero. Every damn day.

Dana has truly become my best friend. The person I can talk to about everything. He loves me without condition. When I do not deserve it. And even though it has been so hard to get here, here we are. I am so fucking lucky. And it only took 20 years (I joke, I joke).

Marriage is the hardest thing I have ever done and I have done some hard shit. It is a balancing act and it is about persevering through the really hard times so you can enjoy the really great times. It is not always easy but it is always worth it. I am thankful for where this journey has brought us. That we have made through so much and that we can  truly enjoy each other. I am so happy that Dana saved me back then and that he keeps on saving me every day. Here’s to 20 more years. And beyond.