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?