Introspection and Inspiration

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“The healing of the spirit has not been completed until openness to challenge becomes a way of life.”
― M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

I have to be constantly introspective in order to write.

I think that’s normal. But that’s what my problem was in the year 2016. I just didn’t want to be introspective. It’s hard work. And I spent a few years doing it and then for whatever reason I just didn’t want to last year. It’s not a good thing. Every time something would come up I would scrounge for something sweet, or watch tv, or play a game. And I would ignore whatever it was that really required some introspection on my part. I would ignore the feelings.That’s what I’ve been doing all year long, trying really hard to ignore the feelings. Again.

I have a lot of practice doing that.

That’s why I couldn’t write. I just didn’t want to deal. I have to get back to it. I think I’m ready now. And as upsetting as it’s been that I’ve gone so long without doing it, I’m starting to realize that it is ok. It’s not ok to spend your whole life refusing to look inward and deal with yourself, but it is ok to stop for a while and not do that. It’s ok to not want to always be thinking so hard, just as long as you don’t stay there forever. Staying forever is very bad. Staying is what makes the person who never changes and never grows.

It was an extremely difficult year and I was sick a lot. I didn’t have the mental energy to be introspective enough to write every day or every week or even once a month.

I’m ready though. I’m ready to move on and start really dealing with things again. I think it’s ok I took a break for a while, even though it was a pretty long break. There are some unfortunate consequences to having taken such a long break, and I’m certainly not pleased with some of the things I allowed to happen during this time. But I am human, and I can deal with those consequences. I honestly do feel better prepared to tackle things now so maybe this unintentional break was meant to be.

I have a lot of work to do this year and I’m ready for it. I have goals. A lot of really big goals. And for the first time I’m excited about that. I’ve never really set goals for myself before. I think I was always afraid to set goals. It’s weird. I spent a lot of my childhood and young adulthood just surviving. Just getting through another day aiming to simply keep the peace as much as a young girl is able to. Just hoping that I would wake up to another day of my parents ignoring each other, as that was preferable to them yelling at each other.  Hashtag goals is my motto for the year though. Because I don’t want to just get through another day anymore. All of the goals will be met this year. Just watch me.

I’ve never considered myself a perfectionist for some reason. But as I’ve done a bit of reading, I’ve realized that maybe that is what I’ve always been. I never attempt to try things unless I already know I’m going to do it well and succeed. And I have a rather debilitating fear of failure. I think that’s exactly what perfectionism is. If feels like a personality flaw to me but I am sure there are ways to change that.

I was planning on attending an event recently, the Women’s March on Washington, and I began to get severe anxiety over it starting a week or two ago. So as part of my plan this year to focus on my health, which includes mental, emotional, and spiritual as well as physical, I decided not to go. It was partly because I could not articulate what my reason was for going. I’ve attended marches in DC before, and because I no longer believe in the cause I was marching for at the time, I didn’t want to attend a new march without having some conviction about it.

I am happy to say that I know many women, both friends and family, who were willing and able to march and I am thankful for their participation in something that is a hallmark of the freedom we have in this country. My hope is to better be able to understand what the true goal of the march was and begin to contribute in my own way to the political scene of my local government over the coming years.

I studied political science in school and I notice myself easily forgetting how much I do enjoy it. Politics are emotionally charged and many issues in politics are so charged between the two sides of the aisle that getting involved in discussions is triggering for me. Especially when those discussions happen on social media. I’ve had to click the ‘hide post’ button probably hundreds of times on facebook over the past few months, and I will continue to do so, for my own sanity. For me personally, getting involved in political discussions on social media is a very bad idea. Maybe one day I’ll be able to handle it better, but discussing things that I have very strong personal convictions about with strangers on the internet who believe the complete opposite is not serving myself and my mental and emotional state well.

Practicing self-awareness and self-care is a huge part of being introspective. And is also something that I have very much neglected over the past year.

I, thankfully, haven’t battled with depression in quite a while. But I have been complacent, content with mediocrity, and mostly unwilling to be uncomfortable. And it’s time for that to change. The things that are most worth having are the things that take the most hard work and dedication and yes, a willingness to be uncomfortable with what you’ve been doing.

My uncle asked me to read a book a while back, and while it was excellent, I wasn’t ready to tackle the subject matter and apply it to my own life. One of my favorite quotes from Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled, “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”, stabs me right in the heart every time I read it. As painful as it is to admit it, that’s exactly what has been going on with me. I haven’t been doing anything with my time.

Much of the book, The Road Less Traveled, is about discipline. And I have a complicated relationship with that word. Where I came from, discipline meant spanking toddlers for not taking naps, and public declarations of wrongdoing in front of church congregations (a practice I still find extremely bizarre), and standing in a line waiting to be spanked while having to listen to my siblings scream in pain from their own beatings, and listening to parents brag about the bruises they left or how they won out over the stubborn spirit of their child. Hearing the word discipline makes me cringe.

The rod of discipline. Telling everyone your sins. Guilt over not reading my bible or praying well enough or often enough. Feeling responsible for my siblings getting spanked. These are all the things I associate with discipline. When I first listened to The Road Less Traveled, I cried. A lot. I knew everything the author was saying was true, and yet I also knew how horrible “discipline” had been in my life. I somehow have to change what discipline means to me in my life. In order for my to have it myself, it has to be something different.

I greatly admire and am inspired by my sister and sister-in-law. I have seen discipline play out in a positive way in their lives and I need to get there somehow. My sister is raising her son on her own while attending medical school and successfully preparing to become a doctor. As if raising a child, and doing it alone, wasn’t hard enough, she decided to throw ‘become a doctor’ into the mix. That takes some serious grit and dedication. I don’t know how she does it, but I am truly inspired by her perseverance even in the face of so much hardship.

I’m inspired by my sister-in-law as well but in a very different way. She has put so much hard work into relationships. Her marriage with my brother and a lot of other familial relationships have come upon some serious bumps (more like mountains) in the road and I’ve watched as she didn’t just sit by and let things fall apart but truly put all of her effort into repairing and growing and changing. It’s an awesome thing to witness. Working on relationships is harder to come by for me and I only hope I can do it as well as she has so far. That is a goal for me this year as well.

I’m Here

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I have not been finding my voice this past year.

I’ll maybe get into things in more detail in the future but suffice it to say it’s been a long, rough year. I moved twice, once from a horrible, mold-ridden apartment into an only somewhat less horrible second apartment in the same complex, and then moved in with my brother and sister-in-law, which was a huge relief and blessing in disguise for everyone. I’ve been very sick because of the mold exposure and sugar addiction problems and just plain eating very poorly and not taking time to care for myself and my body.

It’s time for some really big changes. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a new year. I’ve been thinking about needing to make some really big changes since my 30th birthday in September, and really for most of 2016. I just didn’t know where to start. I don’t want to live a life where I feel like I’m just getting by or just barely doing what I need to do to survive life.

I haven’t written anything at all since I think April of 2016. It’s bad. I love writing so much and haven’t even attempted to tackle it for a long time because I’ve been afraid or something. My depression has honestly been good, almost non-existent. But my anxiety has been worse then ever. I do believe my antidepressent may actually be causing increasing anxiety and I have to tackle it head on. No more avoiding because it is definitely making my mental health much worse.

Every time I’ve thought about sitting down to write again, the dark shadow would come along and choke me, and I couldn’t do it. I’m not sure why it got so bad. Usually writing is what keeps me sane and able to manage things. But I haven’t even written anything in private just for myself either. It makes me sad. And angry. And disappointed in myself, yet again, for failing to stick with something, yet again.

Life is so fucking hard sometimes. I want kids, I don’t want kids. I want to travel, I’m afraid to travel. I want to live in another country, I’m freaked the hell out to live in another country. I need to deal with my mom issues, I can’t deal with my mom issues. To say I’ve avoided doing things because I’ve been afraid is the biggest understatement ever. It’s all I’ve ever done. Be afraid.

I think my mother made me feel afraid. Afraid of life. She was never happy. Not ever. She and my father had a terrible, hateful marriage. Even though I did everything, she was never happy enough. And then she left and by doing so solidified that I was utterly unimportant to her. That there was something wrong with me. That there was something about me to be fearful of because I wasn’t worth staying for.

I’ve spent my life attempting to be invisible. Trying very hard to not make a big splash or cause any controversy. I am definitely a peace-maker type but mostly I just avoid because I HATE confrontation of any kind. So I shrivel up into my little shell and stay there so I don’t have to confront things or people. I’m often uncomfortable with compliments or recognition because I have a hard time believing it comes from a place of sincerity.

I’ve tried so many things in 2016 to make myself feel better. To get rid of the very often crippling anxiety. I’ve tried different workouts, many different diets, drinking, staying home and doing nothing, sugar. And I’ve failed over and over again to stick with anything good or wholesome. I know my real problem is consistency, but I get impatient very quickly when I think something should be working and it’s not. I’m not good at “thinking outside the box” and finding other ways to do things or solve problems so my pattern is to move on to something else before I’ve even given the previous thing a chance to work. It’s a serious flaw I have.

I’m putting it out there now that I want to do a lot of things this year. I want to write a book. I want to write a children’s book. I want to become a certified newborn care specialist. I want to find freedom with food and not feel like a slave to sugar. I want to have fun going out without feeling pressured to drink in order to have fun. I want to lose fat, gain muscle, and feel strong in body, mind, and spirit. I want to become confident in the kitchen. I want to read 2 books a month. I want to travel. I want to love again.

I’ve never been a list maker or a goal setter or a planner. I’ve always just hummed along and let whatever is going to happen happen. I’ve seen many people talk about having to let go of their perfectionism and obsession with list making but that’s never been me. I realize that is not a way to live but it is a seriously huge shift in thinking to go from not ever planning anything to being a planner and a goal setter. It’s something I really want to do and am going to have to work at because I know I need to if I ever want to accomplish any of the things on that list above. Any planners out there have any advice for a newbie, I’d be grateful as I feel a little lost at where to begin.

Writing really is my passion and I can’t let it disappear from my life because of fear. I don’t want to end up regretting letting something I am passionate about and good at go to waste. I don’t know exactly where things will go from here…

But I’m back, here again, hoping someone is still at least marginally interested in what I have to say. And if not that’s ok too. I have to take a leap even if no one but me cares.