My Toughest Battle So Far…

Thoughts have been floating around my head for weeks now – looking for a way to escape. Sometimes the hardest part of being a writer is sorting through all the thoughts, all the words that don’t belong, trying to piece together the right way to say the things my heart and mind are screaming. The problem is that everything I have to say feels so important but nothing sounds right outside my head. Everything seems so intertwined, yet, piecing is all together is enough to keep me up at night.

No – my toughest battle so far is not writing. I’ve struggled with finding the right words since I first fell in love with writing all those years again. My toughest battle is far deeper and more important than my inability to figure out how to write the things that I feel are so important for the world to hear.

After my dad died, I questioned why he didn’t love me enough to get healthy. Clearly, if he loved me enough, he would have taken the steps he needed to live a healthier life so that he could be around for years to come – so that he could watch me grow up, get my first big girl job, hopefully one day fall in love and get married and start a family. But my mind screamed that he must not have loved me enough to get healthy or surely he would have done it.

I’ve grown up a lot since those thoughts. I understand that my dad getting healthy or not getting healthy had nothing to do with me – it was his choice to not take care of himself. He tried countless diets and exercises but never kept it up. His heart got weaker and he got sicker. Although he died, sometimes it still feels like I paid the ultimate price for his decisions – I lost my dad because of the choices he made – choices that were outside my control. Part of me is angry with him for that, even after all these years. Not all the time, but once in a while, when I think about everything he’s going to miss out on; when I think about how I never truly feel like I have a family; when I think about all the struggles I have to face without him there in my corner.

This story is important to my toughest battle so far. It isn’t about trying to figure out if my dad loved me enough; it isn’t about all the things that could have been and should have been; it isn’t about how I still wish he was here with me. My toughest battle so far is deeper than all of that.

It’s my battle with myself. My battle with myself to not follow in my dad’s footsteps. My battle with myself to get healthy and stick to it. My battle with myself to put myself first and to take time to myself and to grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. The battle though is the one I have failed countless times before – the battle to get healthier. I spent years questioning why my dad didn’t love me enough to get healthy when in reality I should have been asking myself that very question. Do I not love myself enough to get healthy?

I’ve spent years putting everyone else before myself. Listening to the drama, drawing lines where they were needed, doing whatever it took to make everyone else’s life easier and along the way I lost the most important person – I lost myself and finding myself has proved to be tougher than I ever thought because it’s often lead me to wonder if I ever got a chance to really know myself at all.

Who am I? What makes my soul come alive? Where do I want to be spending my time?

And why do I not love myself enough to get healthy?

I’ve spent years  avoiding it at all costs – spending my nights working and napping and cleaning and reorganizing and watching tv and anything other than taking care of myself. I’ve started working towards getting healthy multiple times before. I’ve also quit every single time.

I was talking to my friend a few weeks back about all the things I want to do – run a mile without stopping, get married one day, perhaps have children. I’m not very sociable and have a hard time in group settings. We were discussing ways to get out of my comfort zone. She gave me homework to go home and make a list of things I could do. I never did. My heart kept screaming at me – how can you make a commitment to anyone else when you can’t even hold onto a commitment to yourself? You haven’t won this battle yet – you’ve still got a fight left in you – now do something.

When people tell me it’s amazing how far I’ve come, I tend to roll my eyes or look down. It doesn’t feel that amazing to me. Yes, I survived a lot of crap in my childhood. Yes, I’ve made a life of myself. Yes, I can support myself comfortably. However, I haven’t won the one battle I’ve been fighting for years – the battle with myself.

I don’t want to follow in my dad’s footsteps where health is concerned. I would love nothing more than to be the kind of parent he was to me – if I have children, I want them to know they can always come to me for anything and everything and I’ll always be there to listen and help in anyway I can. I want them to run to me when they need a hug and to hide away from the world. I want them to know that I will always be there for them no matter what happens or what they have done. But I don’t want to pick up his health habits – I don’t want to struggle for the rest of my life. I want to live a long, healthy, happy life filled with all the things I’ve always claimed I would do, but have never done.

Which means that I’m in for my toughest battle so far – my battle with myself.

And the lingering question – do I love myself enough to do something?

I can say yes all I want, but actions speak louder than words. I have to prove to myself that I love myself. I have to take care of myself – not only when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. I have to take care of myself on the nights when I’m tired from a long day at work. I have to take care of myself by going to the gym because I know it’s good for me even when I don’t want to. I have to take care of myself by pushing myself harder because I know I have it in me. I have to take care of myself by paying attention to what I’m putting in my body. I have to take care of myself by getting enough sleep and putting lotion on every single day and skipping the foods that I know are not good for me. I have to take care of myself when I want to have a lazy day. I have to take care of myself when my face is breaking out with acne and I’m trying to figure out if I should try covering if up or if hiding from the world is a valid option for the day. I have to take care of myself every single day. It’s the only way.

Do I love myself enough to take care of myself? Do I love myself enough to get healthy? Do I love myself enough to try again?

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I Stopped Wearing It…

Not it…it sounds wrong…like it never had any meaning to me at all.

I stopped wearing my bracelet. This may not seem like a huge deal to everyone, but I wore this bracelet almost every single day from the day I received it in the mail. I even bought a second one when the first wasn’t exactly what I wanted. It was my lifeline some days…my reminder.

It said “Love Always Dad” in my dad’s handwriting. It was the only thing I could find that had his handwriting on it that was a message to me. I found it on this autograph dog from high school graduation that I’m pretty sure I probably found silly at the time. I spent the first few years after my dad’s death longing to find something that he wrote to me and was beyond excited when I finally stumbled across it. I wore it all the time. I needed it as a reminder.

I stopped wearing it when I got sick a few weeks back. I didn’t feel well and didn’t want any jewelry on me. It took me a couple weeks to even start wearing a necklace again. I replaced the bracelet with a fitbit – an aid to get to a healthier me. Perhaps the replacement of the bracelet with the fitbit is a little symbolic – my dad never lived the healthiest life and I’m trying to make decisions in my life that will lead to a healthier me. Perhaps I just finally feel like I’m okay after almost six and a half years. I’ve been at peace with my dad’s death for a while. Maybe I’m finally ready to start living the life I’ve always imagined.

Maybe the things aren’t connected at all and I’m trying to make connections where there aren’t any. I change the jewelry I wear every so often. I’ll wear the same necklace for weeks on end and one day change it to something else. I’ll go through phases where I wear a different necklace every single day. I wear the same earrings for months on end and then will change them every single day for a month before sliding back to wearing the same ones all the time. But I rarely change the bracelets I wear. I have a variety and if I’m going out or visiting someone, I’ll add a few more, but even then, I always left my bracelet on. I still have it. It’s currently chilling in my purse. Yet, off all the thoughts that have been running around my head recently, this is the most significant. This is the one that needed to be written about first. I stopped wearing my bracelet and I think I’m okay with it.

I’m Trying to be a Good Person…

It’s perhaps one of my most commonly used phrases.

I’m trying to be a good person…

To clarify, I don’t think I’m a bad person. I normally find myself using that phrase to remind myself of why I’m doing something – even if it’s not necessarily what I want to do. Sometimes I do things simply because they are the right thing to do. You hurt me and I still find it in my heart to help – why? Because I want to set an example. I want to be the bigger person. I want to make it clear – you know, you hurt me, so you’re going to sweat for a few days and maybe I’ll help and maybe I won’t, but if I decide to, it’s not because I forgot what you did – I did because it’s the right thing to do. It’s what good people do. Good people help out even if they don’t want to – because it’s right. It’s never okay to punish another person for the actions of someone else, so sometimes it’s about setting aside the hurt feelings and doing what is right – despite your feelings on the situation.

I feel I’ve been placed in this situation a lot lately – and I’ve reacted differently each time. One time I stuck to my intuition and continued to say no. Another, my intuition told me to help – so I did. The important thing is that I never ignore my intuition – and I’m still learning that. It’s taken me years to admit when I need time to get away from everything and I’m slowly learning to find that balance between what I need and want and helping others. I’ll probably struggle to find the balance for the right of time – and that’s okay. I’m a good person who wants to help and sometimes has a hard time taking time for herself – I’ll learning.

At times I also think it’s a way to remind myself of why I’m doing something. I spent years feeling like a bad person based solely on my upbringing and the hidden secret of what home life was really like. I never truly felt like a good person during those years. I felt like I was always hiding and was secretly a bad person who was only good when I was around the public. Of course – I now know that this is silly – I was never a bad person – I was a person in a difficult situation.

We learn. We grow. We aim to be good person who also don’t neglect ourselves. It’s a learning process. In my case – a slow learning process. But I’m getting better. And I’ll continue to get better.

To the Boy Who was Never My Boyfriend…

I was never sure if I had a crush on you or not. I think part of me did, but part of me was confused by the endless chatter of co-workers. Flirting with you was fun, picking on you was fun, as well being picked on by you. Your dark hair made me melt a little every time I saw you, but did I really like you? I’m not sure. Perhaps I’ll never know. I liked you enough to potentially date you if the time ever arose, but those paths never crossed at the right time. Whenever I dated someone else, I noticed the change in your behavior. Gone were the days when we picked on each other. I never could quite figure you out.

Thank you for the walks around the lake and the days getting dinner and ice cream together. Thank you for the talks about life – where we wanted to end up, where we wanted to live, how many kids we wanted to have, what our goals were for the future, where we wanted to travel. It was fun dreaming about that stuff with someone for a change instead of spending countless nights dreaming alone. Thank you for always bringing a smile to my face.

You were the first true friend I made in this new city. When I popped my tire in the dead of winter, you were the one to come help me change it, and then take me home when it was frozen on. You were the one who drove me to get my wisdom teeth out and then stayed with me until it was time to go to work. You were one of the first people I ever told about my childhood and you never batted an eyelash or looked at me differently because of it.

I was so excited the last time we had dinner together. Once again, we talked about our lives and our plans for the future. And once again, I found myself confused by my feelings and trying to figure out if there was anything there or not. I don’t think there was anything there for you – or perhaps I was always too confused that I just couldn’t sort out my feelings. We were best as friends. And I treasure your friendship. But when the mixed signals started flying, I became lost.

We never kissed…we never even held hands. Yet, sometimes the heart cries out for all the things that could have been but never was true as our minds picture life together 20 years from now. It’s already picked out the wedding date and named our five children and our house full of animals and laughter and love and dreams and found the perfect house for all of us. It can’t help but picture life with you – trying to figure out what is there, if anything.

At the same time, the heart cries out begging the mind to stop dreaming of a life together. It tries to explain that it’s never going to happen. Then a call, a message asking to grab dinner and it becomes a cycle all over again. The heart cries out for the mind to say no even though it wants to say yes. The heart hasn’t been able to figure out how it feels. It needs time to itself.

I saw you the other night. You stopped by our old place of work and introduced me to some girl. I don’t even remember her name. I found myself instantly wondering who she was to you and if perhaps we were in the same boat. Maybe she likes you and maybe you’ll return those feelings.

But I let those feelings go. I let the thoughts spin around my head for several days before sitting down to write this to you. Although I now realize that there weren’t any feelings on your end, I’ve stopped trying to figure out mine. It doesn’t matter how I feel because there was nothing there.

So this is to you – to the boy who was never my boyfriend. Thank you for being my first friend in a new city. Thank you for letting me share my dreams with you. Thank you for never looking at me differently.

Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

“Fine!” she yelled across the room. “I don’t want to be your friend anyways. Just leave like everyone else always has.”

Tears streamed down her face and he looked at her with concern.

He didn’t know what do say or do, so he did the only thing he could, he wanted away.

She sank to the floor crying.

Why was she always pushing people away?

She knew the answer.

She was terrified of being hurt, so she pushed them away before they had the chance to hurt her.

It crushed her soul.

She didn’t know how to love anyone anymore.

Years of being alone had taught her to enjoy her own company.

Her own solitude.

She didn’t know how to open up to anyone anymore.

Sure, she laughed with her co-workers.

But she went to bed alone.

She was fighting this continuous battle within herself.

Fighting for the urge to change while the comfort of her surroundings were there.

She looked up and saw that he had indeed walked away.

Great…another one was gone.

All she wanted was for someone to look at her and tell her that they were’t going anywhere.

All she wanted was to stop pushing people away.

Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

“What’s this?” he said as he held up the plain black journal.

“It’s a gift for you…for us. Open it up…read it…” she said as he stared back at her.

He opened the journal and read silently, the words of his soulmate filled the pages.

“It’s beautiful,” he replied as he closed it.

“I’ve always wanted to share a journal with someone,” she began to explain. “If you want,  I thought it would be nice to write letters back and forth. Leave it for each other to find – anywhere you want. It’s okay if you don’t want to, I’ll keep writing, but I thought this was a good way to share my passion with you.”

He reached out for her hand, pulling her close.

“I love it. It’s a great idea. I can’t wait to write to you.”

She leaned in for a kiss.

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”