Keep Going

The other day, I did something that was impossible for me a year ago- I said hello to a friend in the grocery store. I know that probably sounds pretty trivial to most people, but I have never been able to greet someone if they were not looking directly at me. I have a hard time controlling my voice volume so I was always worried that I would be too loud and scare the person or that I would be too quiet and they wouldn’t hear me.

I also had a major fear of touching someone, like on the back or shoulder to let them know I was there, which is another thing that has changed recently. I have gotten “pins and needles” before when a friend rubbed my back. I was not used to being touched and my body reacted in negative ways to it. But the other day, a friend rubbed my back and there was such an incredible warmth that went through me. It felt like love radiated through me from the touch of their hand. It was such a beautiful and calming feeling.

Anyway, I said hello to this person in the store, and we had a conversation like we would at church or any other place I might see them. It was simple, natural, completely normal to any onlookers and something that person probably didn’t think twice about, but I was ecstatic. I texted another friend to celebrate my accomplishment. I had wanted to do this my entire life. I even asked for help on this blog at one point to get ideas about how I could learn to say hello to someone. It seemed like a daunting task at the time, but has become less terrifying as I have learned how to communicate and express myself better. In this moment, I celebrated how far I have come in the last few years.

I have come so far and made such amazing progress that I just want to encourage everyone to keep going, keep trying, keep working on getting better. Looking at all of my progress is almost unbelievable. Things that were impossible are now normal. Things that used to make me feel uncomfortable can now help me feel the incredible love others have for me. These changes have truly been a miracle. One of the biggest miracles is that most people don’t know how hard these things used to be for me. They see who I am now and think nothing of these major milestones because it fits me now. I have become the type of person that talks to people and loves and feels love, and that is probably my biggest miracle of all.

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Living for the Good and the Bad

I have not wanted to die in about two weeks. This is the longest I have felt well since the two weeks last year between getting out of my worst episode of depression and being involved in a serious car accident. I feel as though I have gone through hell twice over the last two years. I went from being in the most pain I had ever been through emotionally and mentally to being in the most pain I had ever endured physically. There were so many days of wanting to give up, days where the pain was so bad that I would have done anything just to make it stop. But I finally feel like myself again. I feel free from the pain that dominated my life.

It is interesting how you look at things when you get better. I would not trade the last two years for anything. It was the most difficult time of my life, but also a time when I grew exponentially. I am not who I was two years ago. I am not even who I was two months ago. I have grown so much in these difficult circumstances. I found out what I am made of, who I am at my core, and what I am capable of. I have conquered my greatest giants of self-loathing, fear, and doubt. I have learned to trust. I have learned how to be vulnerable. I have learned that I have worth, that I am loved, and that I am strong and kind and giving.

The last two years have been both the best and worst of my life. Sometimes we think that things are all good or all bad. The glass is either half empty or half full. We are either happy or not. But maybe the glass just is. Maybe we just are. And maybe it is enough just to be- to be here, to be alive, to be human. The last two years have taught me that sometimes you have to go through the worst to discover the best that life has to offer. And no matter what happens, there is always good. Even when life is so completely horrible that you do not want to be here one more second, there is good.

I am glad that I stayed for the good… and for the bad. Sometimes we make life seem like only the good is worth living for. That’s not true. The bad is worth living for, too. Not because it is fun or happy or easy, but because it molds us. The bad things in life are the things that make us better. It is through our suffering that we learn compassion, forgiveness, love, endurance, perseverance, patience, strength, and many of the best qualities we can possess. We must choose to live for both the good and the bad, so that when things get hard, we keep going and refuse to give up.

So, here’s to living for everything this world has to offer- the good, the bad, and the mundane. Here’s to constant improvement and progression. Here’s to changing and learning and being. And here’s to better days ahead. 🙂

Recognizing Change

November 14, 2015 dispelled my hopes of having friends. It was a blatant reminder of all the times I was excited at the prospect of friendship and disappointed by the outcome. To me, that day was a sign that nothing had changed.

The day after though was a sign that I was wrong. Things had indeed changed. It was just a bad day, a bad night, an unwanted reminder of my past, but also an inaccurate reflection of my future. Since that day, I have seen just how wrong I really was.

I had recognized change before in me and in my life, but that Friday made me question the reality of that change. Did I really have friends? Was I just dreaming that things had changed, that people finally saw me? Was it even worth trying if my life seemed destined for loneliness?

It seemed incredibly hopeless. If I had changed that much and had forged so much progress only to find myself back at the beginning, there was no use in trying. I was ready to consign myself to a life of loneliness, but that unconquerable part of me told me to keep on going, to keep trying, that I was close if I just didn’t give up.

So I kept going and I tried to be brave and act like I was okay. I tried to pretend that it didn’t matter, that I wasn’t affected by it even though it killed me inside. The facade can only last so long though and I broke. I broke down to my friend and in doing so, realized that I was indeed wrong. Things had changed and I really would be okay.

So many experiences since that day have reaffirmed that things are not how they used to be, and I don’t have to be alone. I am recognizing the changes in my life and in myself. I am recognizing that I am not alone and that I don’t have to be alone. I admit that I still struggle with lots of other things, but at least with having friends, I have made some progress.

And I continue to work towards change and improvement. I recognize the changes as little things happen to reassure me of my progress. I recognize that things are not how they once were. I am different. I am better. Life is better, and I really will be okay.

Resolutions/ Gift to God

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think you should wait for a particular date to make positive changes in your life. I do, however, like the idea of giving a gift to Christ when we celebrate his birth.

Last year, I gave the gift of prayer. Christ has always been my best friend from the time I was a child, he was the only one I could turn to in the darkness and loneliness. I realized though that I had neglected to really talk to God like I used to. I still prayed. I just didn’t really communicate with him. Throughout this year I focused on rebuilding that relationship, on getting to know my Father again, and allowing Him to be a part of my life. I have gone through amazing changes this year and hardly recognize who I used to be.

I wanted to do that again this year, give a gift to Christ and then focus on it all next year. However, as I asked for feedback on what I could give, the feedback I received indicated that I may be focusing on the wrong things. It is good to want to be better, but maybe the gift I need to give this year is to myself. Maybe this year I need to learn to love myself. It’s still a gift to God because I know he wants me to be happy and love myself, but maybe it’s also about time that I do something for me.

The truth is that I really don’t like myself. I look in the mirror and think, “how could anyone ever love you? You will never be enough. You could never be beautiful.” No wonder I want to die so much… The only good thing I ever say to myself is “you do good things.” And I repeat it over and over because it’s the only compliment I can actually believe.

Maybe this year I will give the gift of changing that- changing how I talk to and about myself. In all honesty, it will be hard to give up hating myself. I don’t enjoy hating myself, but I don’t see any reason to love myself and coming up with reasons seems like a daunting task. Is it possible to love someone you hate? I have already proven that is possible this year, I just have to prove it to myself this time.

Grateful for Change

I am not who I was a year ago, or 6 months ago, or even a week ago. I keep changing and growing and becoming better. I have been amazed at how much I have changed in the last year. I look back at things I wrote a few years ago and shake my head at my whining and self centered behavior.

I am so grateful that we don’t stay the same. I am grateful that I haven’t stayed the same. I look pretty much the same way as I did in high school, but I am a completely different person on the inside. I am kinder, more understanding, more forgiving, and just in general, better and wiser than I used to be. I am grateful for that change and for the opportunity I have to change continuously. I don’t know what I would do or who I would be if I wasn’t constantly changing and becoming a better person every day.

GREAT Goals

Have you set your New Year’s resolutions this year?

I have been thinking lately about all of the New Year’s resolutions that are abandoned as the year goes on. A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something” or “the quality of being determined or resolute.” So if resolutions are supposed to be firm decisions, why do we so easily forget or disregard them? How do we make resolute resolutions?

Most people have heard of “SMART” and “WISE” goal setting. SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely. And you need to be WISE in order to work toward fulfilling those goals. (People have different terms for the WISE acronym.)

Together, these philosophies can help you work to make and keep your goals. However, the problem with both of these is that they only come into play after you decide what goal you want to make. So most people’s goals tend to be focused on changing behavior, which means that people are expecting to be able to change their behavior without changing the causes of that behavior.

Sometimes life does work out in a way that allows our behavior to change our thoughts, but usually it is our thoughts that change our behavior. So I’ve come up with my own acronym to help you with deciding what goals to make in the first place. I hope that this will help you to make goals that will make you want to change rather than simply change your behavior.

Here are my steps to GREAT goals:

Get
Ready

Explore
Areas

Turn

The first step to making a great goal is to get ready. You need to be ready to change, ready to become better than you are now. You get ready by recognizing a desire to change. That desire could be due to health problems, family concerns, or mental or emotional needs. For example, “I want to be healthier because I have a family history of diabetes.”As much as you can, try to get to the root of what causes the behavior you want to change and then determine why you want to change.

Next, explore the areas you want to change. If you want to be healthier, explore your options for becoming healthy. If you don’t enjoy using exercise equipment, don’t make a goal to go to the gym. Instead explore options like walking around a mall. Look at your behavior and explore options that you would enjoy doing. If you take the time to explore the areas you want to change, you’ll likely find an option to change that you can commit to doing.

Then, turn your life to make the change you want to see. It’s good to make goals to change behavior but unless you choose to change yourself, your behavior will likely remain unchanged. You need to commit to turning your life. Turn in the direction you want your life to go. Make your goals part of your life rather than add-ons. Integrate your goals into your normal routine or better yet integrate your normal routine into your goals.

Once you’ve decided to make great goals, be smart and wise in how you make those goals a reality. Get help and feedback along the way. Changing yourself isn’t easy so use all the help you can get.

Good luck with your goals this year!