Let me start this off by saying that I’m not using this post to tell you how to be healthy and I’m not giving any tips on how to lose weight. If that is what you are looking for, you won’t find it here. What I am talking about it is what I’m doing to make sure that I take care of myself first.
2020 has been a difficult year, nobody can deny that. With this difficult year, a lot of us have had to really get grounded in what we believe is important. For me, one thing has been my overall health. I started the year off not drinking and being impatient to get back to working out hard to get back to a specific weight. I was kind of working on my mental and emotional health, but not giving the effort I really wanted to. I wanted to start my new job off right and I did.
As I’ve talked about many, many times, I’ve always struggled with being true to who I am. I’ve never truly embraced me for me. Until recently. I am really starting to get the hang of just being me. Me as a happy person, me as a grumpy person, me as a friend and a wife, me.
Understanding and embracing who we are, how we’ve been created, is the launching pad for living a fearlessly genuine life, where we’re no longer pretending or trying to be something other than what we are on the inside.
Jen Hatmaker, Fierce Free Fire
The key to my progress of late starts with understanding who I am. It means peeling back all of the layers that I’ve built up to get to my core to understand who I was created to be. I have not lived a genuine life embracing myself. I have lived a life embracing who I thought other people wanted me to be. I am no longer going to pretend to be anyone for anybody. I am going to show my true me.
Who is the true, genuine me?
I am still discovering this. As I continue to peel back all of the layers I’ve built up, I get to know myself more and more. This process is exhilarating and it is scary. It’s like I’m in a new relationship and the other person is the me that I’ve been hiding all of these years. I am taking chances and living into things that I’ve avoided before. I went camping a couple of weekends ago and woke up in a frustrated mood after sleeping like shit. I was kind to other people, but instead of getting mad as myself for being frustrated, I let it roll. I let myself be in that space and feel those feelings. Soon enough, the frustration just slid away. I also had the first conflict with a friend that I’ve had in a really long time. Fuck that sucked. We had differing opinions and I told her my opinion, not to tell her she was wrong, but to stand up for myself. We agreed to disagree and that it’s okay to have different opinions. It sucked, but it felt better to be true to me than to cave or just go silent until a new topic arose.
I’m also leaning into the things that might make other people annoyed with me. I have some serious (maybe not to the diagnosable point) OCD tendencies. I also have some strong beliefs about what it means for my home to look sloppy. I prefer to have everything in it’s place and if there are piles, I feel like a slob. My husband disagrees and thinks my view is only me thinking about or caring what other people think. Yeah, I can’t deny that is part of it. But, it is a deep-rooted feeling. I’m caring less and less what some people think because I know that what I think matters more.
Then there comes the topic of weight and health. I’m not perfect in my healthy eating. I want to do better, but I know that if I diet or get extremely strict, I will go so far the other way. I no longer want to eat healthy to lose weight. I don’t care. I don’t care that I have a bit of a gut or the my thighs are flabby. I have finally come to the realization that I do not have to fit anybody else’s opinion of health. My health journey is now primarily focused on how I feel and eating or being active to embrace habits that might help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
I embrace me. All of me. Even the parts that I historically have not liked.
I have many people who I do not allow in my life for various reasons. I have some people that I’ve allowed back into my life, but I’m struggling giving them full access again. There are some people I have on a line of whether or not I continue to associate with them.
Many people see me as a bitch for being this controlled about my life. I’ve had family members threaten to not attend big life events because I refused to allow my father to even attend. I get told that ‘they are your family, it doesn’t matter’ when talking to some people, even when they have cut off contact to some family members. Hmm, that doesn’t make sense.
People who are not me feel that they get to judge and comment on my decision. However, I disagree. This is one thing that I have done amazingly well at, regardless of what other people say. I have protected my peace from people who I cannot have in my life for whatever reason. I have protected my emotional and mental health because of it.
I know that I am where I am today because I cut ties with certain people. I’m frequently told I will regret it when they are gone. No, no I will not. I cannot control other people’s actions, but I can control mine. By controlling my actions, I am able to live a healthier life.
For example, I cut my mother out of my life as soon as I did not need her for FAFSA forms. I didn’t talk to her at all and I didn’t see her even in passing. The first day that I went to see her in the nursing home when my uncle placed her there, was the first time I had seen her in eight or nine years. She didn’t know who I was. She thought I was her mom or her sister. She had hit a point with her early onset Alzheimer’s that she was in her final years.
I wasn’t there for her in the times she needed support. I wasn’t there to make healthy decisions for her. I wasn’t there to be the one to take care of her until medical staffing was necessary. I wasn’t there to make sure that my older sister took care of her properly, even though she didn’t. I didn’t step in to take legal custody of her, my uncle did.
I do not regret it. I do feel bad that I wasn’t there. I do feel bad that I hadn’t known that she was diagnosed and that she needed care. But I don’t regret it.
Avoiding the family members that I do isn’t about me being better than them. It’s about me protecting my emotional and mental health. It is about protecting myself so I can live a healthy, fulfilled life.
If I didn’t cut ties with these family members, I wouldn’t be the me that I am today. I wouldn’t be the strong person who is continuously working on herself. I would be living a path being held back by intense stress and shame. I would be financially supporting addicts who only blame others for their situations.
No, I’m not a bitch. No, you don’t get to judge me. No, you don’t get to hold me to a different standard when you’ve cut ties with family members too.
No, I do not regret cutting these ties. My health is more important.
At one point in our life, we’ve all said it, “on January 1st, I’ll start making changes.” We might say that in December, or September, or May, or even February. We have this habit of putting off the changes we want or need to make in our life until that big date. Forget the, “I’ll start on Monday.” That is nothing compared to what we keep saying we will start on January 1st.
You know what happens? January 1st comes and goes and those changes are nowhere to be seen. It doesn’t have to just be about changes you want to make. It can be things we want to start working on. Our goals. Yes, the goals probably require changes, but we push off our goals for living in the here and now and not getting uncomfortable.
Why? Why do we do this? Because making changes or going after goals is uncomfortable. Staying exactly where we are. Staying in the pain or the shitty job or the habits we have now, that’s more comfortable than trying something new. Here’s the thing, you probably feel like you need these last few days, weeks, months to enjoy what you are thinking about giving up. You want to savor it just a little longer, then you’ll remove it from your life. Or, you don’t want to start reading those books, taking those classes, writing those posts, doing those videos, whatever, because you are afraid you are going to suck. So, you’ll wait until next year so you can learn more and start with a bang.
Guess what? I seriously just said this to one of my friends in the last week. In fact, this is exactly what I said:
“I want to be able to plan out my blog posts better, then start adding in YouTube”
“I have to get way more consistent with my time too”
Let me take you back a step. I had been thinking that for soooo long, but I kept it to myself. I didn’t want to tell anyone what I wanted to do because I didn’t want anyone to judge it. I didn’t want to hear their opinions yet. I thought all of other people’s opinions about me doing videos would be negative. But I took a small chance when we were talking about her videos. We were talking about recording YouTube videos on our phones. I opened the door by saying that I’d probably use my phone. I opened the door for her opinion. I didn’t even think about it. But you know what? Her opinion was something that I hadn’t expected.
“please tell me you’re going to do videos”
That’s what she told me. Her opinion is one that I’ve really come to value and I was afraid to mention it. For what? Why was I afraid? I have no idea. I think fear in general.
That fear is what has prompted me for months to delay starting a YouTube channel to compliment this blog until next year. I didn’t even say January 1st. I said next year. Next year is 366 days in 2020. That is a lot of year to delay my goal to.
It was so open-ended because I didn’t want to put a timeline on me getting my shit together. I didn’t want to start now because I didn’t feel confident that I even knew what my message would be. Shit, I can barely keep a consistent schedule on doing Instagram stories.
I don’t have to be consistent to begin. I don’t have to have it all figured out to start. The only thing that I need to start is sitting my ass down and doing it.
I don’t need a new year. You don’t need a new year. What do you want to change about your life? What goals do you want to reach for?
Let me tell you what I normally would say I’d start on January 1st:
Ditching the unhealthy carbs that slowly crept back into my diet
Walking enough each day that my hips and back feel good
Drinking the green tea
Doing the thought work
Cutting out the spending on random Americano runs
I have implemented all of those in my life. I am using today to be healthier and reach some of my goals. Now, I just have to keep using today to start on the other goals that I have been delaying for no reason other than fear.