In high school, I wanted so badly for my peers to like me. I wasn’t popular, and I didn’t really have any friends. Yet, I had amazing parents. I had an awesome sister. At the time, I had a great boyfriend. But instead of focusing on these things, I focused on what I didn’t have.
Slowly but surely I learned to love myself. I learned to be okay with being alone. I learned to spend time doing things I enjoyed, and not worry about others. What is ironic is that once I started not trying to make people like me, they liked me.
Once I stopped trying to control everyone else, and realized that I was the only person I could control, my life fell into place.
After a series of traumatic experiences in August, I was shocked. I didn’t know how to handle myself. I didn’t know the feelings I was holding deep inside of me. So instead of working through them, I locked them away in a box and threw away the key.
I specifically remember telling my Dad, ‘I’m just going to go about everything as if it’s normal because if I act like things are normal, then they will be.’ He knew I was full of shit. He told me to talk to my therapist. And while I knew that was the smart thing to do, I also knew that she would want to work through those feelings with me…and I was not wanting to do that.
So I kept trudging along. I kept PRETENDING like everything was okay. The only thing is, that then I fell back into my perfectionism. I fell back into the trap of looking for others to affirm me. That was okay for a while, as my living in denial of the things that had happened to me didn’t catch up with me right away. I was screaming for the people in my life to make me feel better. And yet, they couldn’t. I needed to.
Last year, I was kickin butt and takin names. Why? Because my priorities were in line. Primarily, I was gentle with myself. I allowed myself the space to be imperfect. I allowed myself the room to mess up. I was spending time with myself, loving myself. I was doing yoga, and spending time with friends, and family, and my boyfriend in equal amounts. I wasn’t looking for others to love me. I was loving myself. I was managing my irrational perfectionism.
Those feelings that I had locked away in a box deep inside of me wanted out. They wanted attention. Because feelings demand to be felt. As humans, we feel feelings. AND THAT’S OKAY! When we feel a feeling, we need to feel it.
I had locked away betrayal, loneliness, guilt, blame on others, blame on myself, confusion, and many more.
And the funny [not so funny] thing about feelings is when we don’t feel them, and lock them away, they grow. They become tyrants. Eventually, they burst out. All at once, and all together. Which is exactly what happened to me.
Middle of September to be exact.
I had stopped looking at the bigger picture of my life. I had forgotten my goals. I had forgotten my journey. All because I was overcome with these emotions that I hadn’t worked through.
These emotions were so strong that they were stronger than my values. My values of understanding, kindness, love, empathy, sincerity, generosity, validation, a strong work ethic, and more. They told my values to shut the hell up because they were demanding that I feel them. Cause feelings do that.
When we don’t feel them…THEY DEMAND TO BE FELT. So instead of feeling them on my own terms, instead of working through them in my journal, and in talks with my therapist, and family, and friends, they exploded inside of me.
I needed to remember that I knew myself. I needed to remember that I need SLEEP each night, because when I don’t get sleep…I become a bitch. It’s true. I do. I say things I don’t mean. I think things that are untrue. I push my insecurities onto other people, trying to get those emotions out of my head. And that makes me a bully.
I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the kind of person who pushes their insecurities onto other people.
And the cool thing is, that I have been through this once before. When I was sick, I pushed my unhappiness and insecurities of myself onto my parents. Onto my little sister. And while my parents will continue to love me, because they are my parents, my sister was done. And rightfully so. She didn’t wanted to be treated like shit, and hey-I don’t blame her! Who does??
Once I realized what I was doing, I started doing yoga. I started spending time with myself doing art. Painting, drawing, meditating, going on walks, reading. I was loving me. And then, once the people around me saw that I was doing this-they saw the person I am. They saw me wake up early to go and volunteer. They saw the way I listened to people, and affirmed them. I saw it too. I was happy, and kind, and positive.
After those horrible things happened to me in August, was I doing these things? No.
I wasn’t getting sleep. I wasn’t eating well. I wasn’t spending time with myself. I wasn’t talking to my therapist. I wasn’t painting. I wasn’t going on walks, or reading, or working hard in school. I wasn’t doing the things I know I need to do to affirm myself.
But it’s not the end of the world. When I see things in my life that aren’t what I want them to be – Or better yet, when I see things in myself that I don’t like, I can change them.
And so over the next 21 days, I decided to do a gratitude devotional. To take time each week to read my bible. To take time each week to make sure I was caught up with school work. To take time each week to talk to my parents, my therapist, my friends.
SO, I am so excited to say that I finally feel like myself again. Those emotions were felt. But they were felt in the wrong way. They were felt and they hurt other people in my life. They hurt me.
To make sure that doesn’t happen again, I’m going to work on my coping skills. The ones I already have. The ones I already have seen work wonders in my life over and over again.
To make them stronger, to make myself stronger. So that in the future, when I feel negative feelings, I know how to channel them. I know how to cope with them. I know how to feel them in a healthy way. Getting medication regulated, talking to a therapist, spending time with yourself doing what you love, FEELING YOUR FEELINGS!
Yesterday, I worked on ridding myself of stressors in my life. I cleaned my room, I got my calendar all filled out. I made a to-do list. And so today, I woke up and started on it.
I sat quietly and was alone with my thoughts. For just ten minutes I sat and I analyzed my body. I felt which parts were tense. I counted my breathing. I checked in with myself to see what I was feeling. The key is to not judge the feelings – to let yourself feel!!
I started on an app called Headspace. It’s awesome because it will send a reminder to your calendar each day, reminding you to take a little time. The guide said that it is best to do it at the same time every day, and preferably in the morning.
Then I did a bit of yoga. I played some calming music, and stretched myself into a few of my staple posses that I remembered from doing yoga a while back!
I paused one more time to check in with myself. I noticed such a difference from the first time I did only about a half an hour before! My body was relaxed. My mind was relaxed. I was calm.
After I had finished, I recited the following to myself:
I choose to be happy
I choose to be grateful
I choose to be caring
And always be thoughtful
I choose to be well,
I choose to be fine
I choose to be healthy
All of the time.
I choose to be patient
I choose to be strong
I choose to be calm
All the day long.
Afterword, I dove into my day. I ate lunch. I made some tea – and read my awesome reminder on my tea bag! I got homework done. I worked ahead. I sent emails. I made appointments. I rocked and rolled on my to-do list. And I cannot even describe how amazing that feeling is.. To know that you have done what you needed to do. Not having things hanging over your head. Not having emotions built up inside. Being completely satisfied. Being completely ready for life, and wanting of life.
It’s amazing what even the smallest of changes can do.
Like cleaning my room…It was a mess. I would clean a little of it and then move on to something else. But my dirty room/environment would still stress me out and give me anxiety! I just needed to take the time to completely clean it. And THEN move on to my next task. Because then I can focus on the next thing I do, and not have ‘oh and I still need to clean my room’ hanging over my head!
By working on these things now, I’ll be able to continue to enact them when negative things happen, just like I have been doing for the last 4 years.
The first step is forgiving myself for my mistake. And remembering that I am human. I am imperfect. I make mistakes. While some are bigger than others, many can be explained by human nature. I went through multiple traumatic and stressful things. I was reacting. And as time is our friend always, I worked through it even without trying to work through it Now I just need to make sure that next time something happens, my coping skills are strong enough that I can revert to them without even trying. This morning during my devotion, I drew the quote above. Kind words to myself.