Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014: A Year in Review

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2014 has been a roller coaster ride from start to finish, filled with extreme highs and desperate lows. It certainly didn’t turn out the way I thought it would, but life hardly ever does. It is filled with surprises, both good and not so good.

I could easily look back on this year and focus on the rough times because we always seem to remember the bad more clearly than the good. But as I look at 2014, I am choosing to focus on what I learned about myself and about life. Some of these lessons I had previously learned, but was given a much needed reminder this year. So here we go.

1. Single is GOOD. I began dating again in early 2014. Three guys later, I recognize just how good it is to be single. I’ve always been good at being single. But I’ve never been great at the dating game. Or maybe I just haven’t found the right person to play the game with. Who knows? But for now, I am back to single and will not be pursuing dating. If it happens, so be it.

2. Heartbreak is worth it. Of the three men I dated this year, I fell in love with one. It was my first time falling in love. It happened quickly and unexpectedly, and it was great. But as fast as that relationship started, it came to an abrupt end, and I was left completely broken hearted. But it was worth it. Loving someone is never wrong.

3. Being Open and Vulnerable is the Best Way to Live. For most of my life I’ve been a closed book. Past wounds and fear of judgement kept me locked up like a safe, with all my feelings and thoughts hidden inside. This year I opened myself up more. I let people see the real me. Being vulnerable is what allowed me to fall in love. It’s what has brought me into deep bonds with friends and family. The lock on the safe has been broken and I am doing my best not to replace it.

4. Take Risks. In March I planted a church. I didn’t do it alone of course, but I was the one who started it, facilitated it and led it (which I still do). This was terrifying for me. But the pastors of this church, Three Rivers, believed in me. They asked me to do it before they moved back to Australia, and although I hesitated, they never did. With their support and faith in me, and the help of others here in Windsor, I started a Three Rivers gathering.

5. Slow Down. I am not a patient person. When I want something, I want it now and I rush after it. I decided I wanted a full time job and was able to get one pretty quickly. Two weeks later I bought a car. Two months later I moved to an apartment in Windsor. What I wanted was my independence back. I wanted to be on my own, taking care of myself and doing what I wanted to do. The job was not great, and the apartment had massive problems. I moved out 3 months later. I left my job two months after that. Maybe if I had slowed down,  I wouldn’t have experienced so many headaches.

6. Trust Your Gut. I sometimes ignore gut feelings because I don’t want to listen to them. I realize that I need to because they are usually right. When I was interviewing for the job, I had a voice in my head telling me it wasn’t a good fit for me. Then in the summer, when my old job was hiring again, I had a voice that told me to quit the current job and try to get my old job back. I didn’t listen to either. The full time job ended up being a toxic situation that caused unbelievable stress. I walked out of that job in early October and never went back. And of course, the position at my previous job had been filled.

7. Don’t let anyone treat you as less than you are. I used to pity girls who would bend over backwards for their boyfriends/guys they were interested in who never appreciated them and didn’t treat them well. Then I became one. I spent a few months after a break-up with a guy pining for him and wishing we would get back together. But he kept ignoring my attempts to talk and/or hang out. I finally came to my senses 4 months after the break-up and realized not only had this guy not treated me the best, he didn’t deserve me. And I was finally able to move on. I know my worth and refuse to allow someone to under value it.

8. Appreciate those that love you. I often wonder how my friends and family put up with me. I am not an easy person. I have a disease that changes my personality and can leave me in bed for days. It can make be mean and it can shut me down completely. Yet, as I have struggled through my depression over the last few months, my family and friends have done nothing but love me and support me. I am so lucky to have such incredible people in my life. I love you all and I thank you.

9. It’s ok not to have it all together. The truth is that no one has it all together. Everyone is dealing with something. Everyone is trying to figure it out. I have been hard on myself for not getting it together. There are some days all I want to do is scream the “f” word at the top of my lungs over and over again. But I am working to get healthy and trying my best. That’s all anyone can ask for.

10. Cherish what you have. We live in a society that always wants more. We’re told we need more. A bigger house, better car, more clothes, etc. But many of us have more than we need. I know I do. And every day I work at being grateful for all I have, and shutting down all of my ‘I wants’ that aren’t ‘I needs’. There are many people with a lot less who live happy lives. Things won’t fill your soul. Only people can do that.

11. Be There for Others. Humans are naturally selfish. We immediately think of ourselves in any situation and how it can benefit us. But it’s not the way to live. Put yourself aside and help others. Be there for others. We can easily regret selfish choices. But we will never regret helping someone else.

And finally…

12. NEVER EVER break up with someone in a text. As someone who has been on the receiving end of one of those texts, I can tell you that it is NOT ok. It is awful and cowardly, and makes the person you are breaking up with feel worthless. If you want to break up with someone, have the courage and decency to do it face to face.

So those are my life lessons for 2014. Some are newly learned and some are re-learned. I have to admit that I am happy to put this year behind me. I don’t do resolutions, so I have none for 2015. I just want to be healthy and happy and for those I love to be healthy and happy too.

Happy New Year!

 

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Outside the Lines

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When I was a kid, I loved to colour. I would draw and then colour my own creations, or I would colour pages in a colouring book. Even in childhood, I was a perfectionist, and I worked so hard to colour within the lines of the picture. It devastated me when I went outside the lines. I saw it as a failure.

Lately I’ve started to see life as colouring book. Everybody is given a page and we are to colour it in from birth to death. Most people’s pages look quite similar. Grow up, attend school, start a career, buy a car, meet that special someone, buy a house, get a pet, have some kids.

And this is not a bad picture. Not at all. It’s beautiful. And it’s exactly what we, and society, expect for our lives. Some will colour outside their lines either by choice or circumstance. You get divorced, lose your job, are in an accident.

But even when those things happen, you deal with them and continue with your life. Share custody of the kids, find a new job, recover. Get back in the lines of your page.

Then there are some who’s lives don’t fit within that page. They don’t fit the description society expects of them. Their only choice is to do the best they can, but they’ll end up colouring outside the lines.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to someone close to me about my recent battle with depression. He said I wasn’t bouncing back as quick as I have in the past. He also observed that I wasn’t fighting as hard as I have before.

I started to think about why that was. This depression hit me hard. It knocked the wind out of me and held me down by stomping on my body. Is it worse than it has been before? No, but it’s different.

First, I have been dealing with this disease for over twenty years now, and to be honest, I am exhausted. I’m exhausted from the battles, the never ending fight. I’ve been worn down. This illness has burned me out.

That’s one of the reasons I am taking longer to bounce back.

But the main reason, the main difference, this time is that my depression also came with a life change. I finally had to accept that working a full time job was too much for me. Stress triggered my depression, and there are very few jobs without stress.

I also had to recognize that I wasn’t being fair to the people who were hiring me. When I am healthy, I am great at work. At all of my jobs, I have been well liked, worked hard and done a good job.

When I was there.

The problem was when my depression hit and I would have to take sick days, or I would go to work but couldn’t concentrate and had a short temper. Or I’d be late because it was really hard to get out of bed.

And that’s not fair to the people I worked for, and with.

So, I have accepted that I will likely never have a full time job again.

That brought on all kinds of worries and anxieties. How was I going to get money? Would I have to depend on my family to take care of me for the rest of my life? Would I be able to live on my own again? Would I lose my car, the one independence I have left?

These questions flew around and around my head daily, pushing me further and further down.

I don’t know what my future is going to be. I know I won’t be fitting into those colouring pages.

So, now what?

It’s a question I’ve been asking constantly and no one has an answer. I recognize that no one truly knows what their future brings, but everyone has plans. They have an idea of where they are going and what they are going to do.

My life hasn’t gone according to plan. And every time I’ve tried to colour inside of the lines of that page, it blows up in my face.

Does that mean I give in to the depression? Do I just give up because I don’t fit into society’s expectation, and I fear the judgement of others when they find out?

No.

It means I have to colour outside the lines.

My life is never going to look like what society deems as the norm. And that’s ok.

I am going to get creative with my life. I will find what’s best for me.

I am going to colour outside the lines.

 

 

The Best Thing

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I know I haven’t written in a while. I am still recovering from my breakdown in early October. It has been a long process to get healthy and I still have a while to go to get there. This is the longest I have ever taken to heal from my depression. I’m in new territory, and still not sure which way to turn.

So, in the midst of the mess, I am doing my best to focus on the good.

Last week, for the first time in 2 months, I felt needed. And it felt good. I felt useful and helpful, which I haven’t felt in a long time. My 10 month old nephew was sick and couldn’t go to daycare for two days. My sister and brother-in-law still had to go to work so at 6am my phone rang.

I quickly got showered and headed out the door to take care of my nephew. Although I was coughed on, sneezed on and covered in snot, it was the best.

He needed comfort. I could give that.

He needed love. I could give that too.

He needed care. Something else I could give.

I was finally feeling like I was doing something worthwhile. And I loved the time I spent with him. I loved having him fall asleep on my shoulder, and hearing his soft snore. I loved his beautiful smile when he looked up at me as I held him.

I didn’t even mind wiping his nose and changing his diaper.

And this weekend I got to spend a lot of time with all of my nieces and nephews. And I was struck with a thought when I was with them on Saturday.

Being an aunt is the best thing.

I’ve never seen myself as having children of my own. It’s just something I haven’t desired. But now I realize I don’t need children of my own. My two nieces and two nephews are my kids. They are enough. They are all I need.

The joy they bring me can’t be expressed in words. My heart swells and feels as though it might explode when I think of them.

To be honest, I never knew I could love as much as I love them.

In my dark days, where the world seems too cruel and I don’t want to get out of bed, picturing them gives me courage. They give me strength.

And they have been my saving grace in the last couple of months. It’s impossible not to smile when I am with them.

They are what’s good. They are what matters. They are the best.

And on my worst days, when I am tired and I look horrific, they still love me unconditionally. There is no judgement from them.

They don’t see my struggles. They don’t see my depression. All they see is Aunt Becky.

And for now, as I continue to fight this battle, they are the reason I keep going.

Being an aunt is the best thing.