It Would Be Easy to Disappear

I moved to a new state about a month ago. It was a decision that was both sudden and a long time coming. I love the atmosphere here. It is a rural town with everything I need within a 5 minute drive from my place, but I can also drive for hours and see nothing but livestock and country. I live with one of my best friends and just a couple of minutes away from my other best friend, which is great, but it makes it tempting to disappear.

I dislike trying to make new friends. I have never been very good at it. People do not usually like me right away. I am intimidating. Even my best friends found me intimidating when they first met me. I do not tend to make good first impressions. And living with one of my friends makes it easy to not feel like I need others. Emotionally, I am an extrovert. I need people like I need to breathe. But I struggle when I have negative experiences with people.

Tonight was hard. I tried to go to an activity for my church group, but I could not find them at the park area where we were supposed to meet. I haven’t been there long enough to recognize faces in crowds, and there were a lot of other groups there tonight. I want to give up. I have friends. I live with a friend. Do I need to try to make more friends? Do I need to try to socialize here? Or can I just disappear? It would be easy to disappear.

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Grief

I never understood grief. I had never lost anyone close to me suddenly or unexpectedly. My great-grandparents have all passed on, but their deaths were not a surprise and I was not emotionally close to any of them. When my nephew passed away, I suddenly understood loss. For years I struggled to understand why one of my best friends was so emotional about certain things. I could not sympathize when she struggled with a coming date that commemorated a birthday or reminded her of the day a loved one died or so many other dates that seemed to mean something to her. I simply had no experience with grief and while I tried to be supportive, I admitted to her that it was not something with which I could sympathize.

I understand grief now- not in an all-encompassing depth of knowledge, as I only have a glimpse of the journey that I now travel, but I now understand that grief is real. I have nights of not being okay. I have days where everything seems to remind me of that terrible tragedy. I know what it is like to ache for a part of you that will never return. I try not to sink too deeply into my grief. I know that I must cling to happiness because depression constantly reaches for me, simply waiting for me to slip back into its grasp. I must not succumb to the grief because it will swallow me whole if I choose not to fight. However, I do need to greet the grief. I need to welcome it and entertain it for a while because it is now a part of me that needs to be addressed. There is a balance to grieving and a balance to living. I must do both. I will do both as I traverse these new emotions that I never thought would be a part of me.

Starting Over

I’m moving to a new place. I don’t know where or when, but I know that I am leaving this house very soon. I’ve been here for a little over four years, and I have loved it. I have loved living with my brother and being there for the birth of all my nieces and nephews. I have loved being a second mom to them and sharing my life with them. But when my little nephew died, I lost a part of me. And it became hard to be home. It hurt to be such a big part of this family.

Since that time, I have been thinking about moving. I have been considering getting my own apartment or moving into an apartment with other people. So when one of my friends had apartment problems, the thought came to me that I should find a place to live with them. I fought the thought at first because I enjoy living with my family and living with this particular friend could be overwhelming because we are very close and that could make it hard to get alone time. But it just seems like the right time and right thing to do.

I feel a deep desire to start over. I tend to become someone that people can count on wherever I go. My friends, my family, my work, and my church group, all know that I will be there when they need me. They trust in that consistency because that is what I have always and will always do. But sometimes when life gets complicated, I feel the need to pull away and go somewhere where people do not expect so much of me. I will always be who I am, but sometimes it is nice for people to not know who that is yet. And I think that my biggest struggle is finding someone I can count on.

I have been here for over four years, and in that time I have made many friends that have come and gone. I have developed relationships that dwindled when someone moved away or became married. And over and over, I am reminded that I am not the kind of person that people try to spend time with. I am the person people go to with problems. I am the person people go to when they need something. I am not the person people go to to have fun. So there seems little reason to not start over by moving away to a place where no one knows me. I have the hardest time making friends, but at this point it seems to not matter much because the friends I have made here are either gone or distant for the most part.

So I am starting over. I am moving and starting over. And hopefully this all works out for the best.

The Day I Stopped Hating Myself

I started realizing a little over two years ago just how much I hated myself. Prior to that I thought that I liked myself for the most part but just had some self esteem issues. After suggestions from some friends to make my new year’s goal to love and take care of myself, I realized just how hard this was for me. It was not long before I realized that I had a deep and persistent hatred of myself. I considered myself to be the worst, most worthless person on the earth.

I wasn’t sure what to do with this new knowledge. How do you learn how to love yourself? Where do you start? I decided to start with the people who loved me. If they saw something of worth in me, there had to be something I could love about myself. I wrote on my mirror every single kind thing I could find that someone had said about me. I started out with about 30 adjectives, but got to about 50 after showing friends what I was doing. It was hard to believe all these things about myself, but there was the proof in front of me, written proof that I knew someone thought about me at one point. That was the beginning of a turning point in my life, but there was still a lot of work to do.

A year later, I had grown so much. I was kinder to myself. I was more forgiving of myself. I was not so afraid of myself. But I still hated myself. I messaged a friend one night to ask her what she thought about me selling everything I owned and starting over. This friend is spontaneous and honest and I knew that she would be willing to entertain the thought of me getting rid of everything, but would also tell me if I was being ridiculous or overreacting. We got talking about why I wanted to do this and realized that at the heart of my struggles was an ingrained belief that I was a bad person. But the most interesting thing was that I believed I was a bad person because I could not stop myself from being a good person. I felt unworthy to do good things, but I could not destroy my innate desire to help others.

After realizing all that I believed about myself and working to discover what made me believe these thoughts, I made a breakthrough. I still remember the first time I did something kind for another person and didn’t hate myself for it. I came home happy. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t cry myself to sleep that night. I dropped off the little box full of stuff for a friend and felt proud of myself. It was the most amazing feeling ever to not feel like a failure for doing something good. That was the first night I didn’t feel like I still hated myself.

I still have days where I question my worth. I have days where I wonder why my friends stay friends with me. I still have times where I don’t like myself for something I have done. But I no longer have those nights where I just curl up on the floor and want to die because I tried to be myself. And every day of waking up not hating myself is a beautiful day.

Little Choices

Every day you make a million little choices. You choose to get out of bed. You choose to get dressed for the day. You choose to go to work or school or take care of children or relax or run errands. Each choice leads you to more choices or less choices. Once you choose to go to work, you choose how to get there; you choose your attitude on the way to work and at work; you choose how productive you will be; you choose whether or not to talk to coworkers; you choose when you will leave work and a thousand other choices.

Sometimes it feels like we don’t have a choice in things because life demands or expects certain things from us, but the truth is that we choose whether or not to cooperate. What I find interesting is that often times, the more we cooperate with life, the more choices we have. Choosing to get up rather than stay in bed leads to a wider range of choices on how to spend your time. Choosing to go out of the house for work or errands or school or something else usually gives us more choices about ourselves and our day. The biggest thing I have realized about choices though is that each little choice adds up to bigger choices, and all the little choices and big choices come together to make you who you are.

I made a choice a few years ago to make good choices. I decided that I would choose to act on any and all good thoughts I had. That simple choice led to many little choices, which led to some bigger choices, all of which came together to make me who I am today. I wrote in my journal the other day that I feel at peace with the world. I feel like I have done good things and led a good life. If I knew I was going to die today, I would have no regrets. I don’t think I could say that if I had not made that decision a few years ago to do good things.

We often tell ourselves that our little choices do not matter. We convince ourselves that it is just one day or one night or one person, so how much of a difference can it really make? I have learned by experience that one choice, one day, one night, one person can change everything. This may seem disheartening if you are thinking about a choice you made that led you down a path you did not want or if someone else’s choice forced you into a path you did not choose. But this post is not about the past. It is about the future. I am not saying to look back at your choices to determine how you got here. I am saying to look forward to what choices you can make to get you to where you want to be. You always have the choice to change. No matter how difficult or hopeless or painful your situation is right now, you have the choice to determine how you will react to it.

Choose today who you want to become and then make the choice to become that person. It won’t be easy. You will have to make difficult and sometimes painful choices. But if you are working towards who you want to be, it will all be worth it.

What Matters Most

Life seems daunting at times. The endless list of tasks that we should be doing to be a “good” person can be overwhelming to say the least. We hold up a measuring rod to ourselves and find that we are severely lacking. How can we possibly help our family, spend time with friends, care for those in need, do the dishes, wash and fold laundry, make our bed, get an hour of daily exercise, read good books, go to school, go to work, help those in need, go grocery shopping, date, keep in touch with distant friends and relatives, eat, sleep, and of course, take time for self care?

My mom always says that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. You choose how to spend it. The thing is though, how do you choose to spend it when there are so many good things you “should” be doing? I think one of the worst possible things you can do with your time is become overwhelmed by all the things you should be doing with your time.

I think the secret to life is really as simple as doing what makes you happy. There are a million good things to do with your time, but what is most meaningful to you? How do you want to spend your time?

Honestly, I need a good movie and popcorn every once in a while, but mostly when I have a chance, I like helping others. I like doing dishes and folding laundry and taking out the garbage- not because these things are fun, but because I know how much no one likes to do them. To me, it is a simple act of service, but to someone else, it can be the biggest help and relief for them. You can ask me to go to the movies with you, and I’ll set up a time to go. But ask me to help you with something, and I’ll be heading over before you finish your sentence.

So when I start to find myself stressing over not having enough time to do everything, I remind myself to step back and do what I enjoy the most, because really, that’s the most important thing I can do.

Distractions

I have the most amazing life. I can lie in bed and look at a galaxy of stars glowing on my ceiling. I wake up to the cutest little kids in the morning, that want to play with me and sit next to me and have me read them stories, and even though I’m not a mom yet, I get to be a mother figure to my nephew and nieces. There is always food in my fridge and I can almost always join my brother and his family for dinner. I have the opportunity to go to school to further my education and learn new skills, and I am at the exciting point where I can qualify for a job in my field of study. I have the privilege once a month of teaching an amazing group of women that actually listen and care about what I have to say. I have the most wonderful friends who would be there for me at two in the morning if I needed them. I am so loved and taken care of and have responsibilities that I cherish, and yet I find myself seeking distractions in my daily life.

I had one thing I needed to do yesterday. One single responsibility and 24 hours to use to fulfill it, but at the end of the night, it still wasn’t done. And I laid in bed and looked at the stars on my ceiling and wondered what I am doing with my life.

A year ago, I was at the end of my rope. I had taken on too many responsibilities that I could no longer handle after certain life circumstances. I woke up early to commute to work. I was taking night classes. I was an essential resource for everyone at my work, and I was depended upon at home and with friends and at church. I had thrived on the social interactions and fast paced flow of life, but I was in so much pain and so exhausted all the time that life was no longer a thrill, but a tremendous burden.

I reached a point where I could no longer handle things and withdrew as much as I could. I stopped taking classes. I quit my job and got a part time job instead. And I didn’t feel the need to go out and socialize much. I slowly started adding things back in. First school. Then family. Then friends. But I abandoned responsibility somewhere along the way, and I refused to pick it back up again.

I am basically back to normal now. I am not in constant pain every day. (Well, at least not pain I can’t handle.) I can do everything required of me fairly easily and without needing to find time in my schedule. In fact, I hardly even have a schedule and can do almost anything whenever I want. Yet, I find myself wanting to be distracted from life. I want to get away for no particular reason other than I just can.

I used to be addicted to video games because they distracted me from life. At a point in my life where I didn’t want to face myself or the world or the demons living in both, games were my lifeline. Now though, I have worked through the trauma from my past. I have faced my demons and resolved them for the most part. Why do I still feel the desire to distract myself?

I think as human beings we have a natural inclination to avoid distress. If there is a choice between facing something that may be beneficial but distressing or doing something that has no benefit but no obviously negative consequences, I think we would naturally choose the latter.

But anyway, to get to the point of all this, I found it both interesting and frustrating that despite my wonderful life, I often choose to be distracted rather than present and responsible. I find myself seeking forgiveness, while still not stopping my actions.

But tonight, as I look up at the stars, I feel fully present. I feel. I am. I am completely here in this moment, feeling the cool of the air around me, letting myself sink into the softness of my surroundings, and with all the good things in my life flowing through me in floods of peace and gratitude. Why do I distract myself? I have no idea… Because this moment is better than any I had all week.