Wednesday, February 26, 2014

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

 What's up with all these pictures of me on the blog lately? My goodness, I promise my kids are still healthy and happy. Someday you'll see their faces again.

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week and I bet you're wondering why that matters to me.
Well, let me tell ya...
I was once a beautifully chubby 6 year old girl. My belly was round and my cheeks were extra squishy. I was adorable and I'm not kidding even a little bit---refer to picture above and notice that chunky-cheek, wide-grinning girl to the right. That's me.

But I started noticing around that age that I wasn't the typical 6 year old. I noticed my round belly and I saw my double chin.

Years later in 2nd grade, we were walking to school one day when I noticed that every time my older sister took a step, a ligament would poke out under her knee. I wanted that.

 The very first day of 7th grade, I met a new friend and I was immediately jealous of the way her collar bone protruded. I wanted that.
 In 8th grade, I started noticing so many other body figures that seemed better than mine and by the time I was a freshman in high school, I was convinced I would never be good enough unless I was skinny---like bone-skinny. I became obsessed.
 As we've already talked about in the past few weeks, growing up was hard. But the hardest part of growing up was high school.
High school was messy in my family. I didn't seem to care about anyone, they didn't seem to care about me, and there was almost always tension. The frustrations and stress caught up to me pretty soon after my freshman year started and I had no constructive way to deal with it.

Although I was never treated or diagnosed until after my biggest issues were over, I could've been diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa as a young 14 year old girl all the way up to a few months before my 18th birthday.

But for most of those years, it was a secret that I kept to myself. I can't remember how or when I finally told my parents but it wasn't until almost the end when I was ready to give up my act and heal my heart.
 This was my sophmore picture in high school. I used to love this picture. I was so happy with my weightloss and loved seeing my double chin GONE. I could see my hip bones and I could see my collar bone. I had achieved what I wanted but I was so broken, so so broken.

It took me a long while to realize this. I wanted control so badly and I was willing to go so far just to get it. I was broken and I didn't know what to do.

I call my senior year of high school my remission because it was the first time I felt whole again. It was the first time I appreciated myself and my body more than I ever had.
I learned so many things at ANASAZI the summer before my senior year that helped me become the person I am and have the strength to fight my battle.

And fight, I will.
I graduated from high school, a healthy and happy senior. I was a different person than any of the other years prior. I had a much better sense of my self-worth and I wasn't as obsessed with my looks.

It didn't completely fix itself and I don't think it ever will. It's a completely different perspective, going from being a literal size 2 to now being an overweight, busy mother of 2. I go from being engulfed in love and admiration for myself to being engulfed in self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness because I'm not skinny anymore. I battle with myself all the time to feel like I'm a person of worth.

But I'm trying.

Last week, I wrote an essay on eating disorders for my English class. This is only a rough draft and I haven't received feedback yet so don't be too critical of it. It was a FIVE page essay but it really seems appropriate for NEDA week. If you'd like to read it, I'll copy and paste it below. If not, skip along, dear friends, and enjoy the rest of your week.

Eating Disorders and the Media

             “In spite of the unprecedented growth of eating disorders in the past two decades, eating disorders research continues to be under-funded, insurance coverage for treatment is inadequate, and societal pressures to be thin remain rampant.”(NEDA) I was six years old when I first noticed I was different than the average girl. I wasn’t a small six year-old. I had a round belly and a double chin. In second grade, I was walking to school with my sister one day when I noticed that every time she took a step and bent her knee, there was a ligament poking out underneath her knee cap. In seventh grade, I took note of a friend whose collar bone protruded above her sternum. In high school, it became an obsession with a friend whose hip bones were noticeable and months later, I noticed another friend whose ribs and top of her spine would show through her clothing. After all of these insecurities, I had this mindset that those things would make me happy and they would make me love myself. Although I never fully received treatment, I would have been diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa beginning the second month of my freshman year all the way up to the summer before my senior year of high school.

            My obsession with thinness started out harmless. I knew that my older sister was thin and I wanted to achieve the goal of becoming like her, although she didn’t have to put any effort into her body looking that way. The obsession only grew with time and was set off in high school when I became a more avid dancer. I would see myself in the mirror standing next to someone whose body was a different shape and I’d crave to have a body like that. Not only was I worried about my weight, I was constantly fighting with my parents and things weren’t always happy in our home. I felt sandwiched between younger, special needs siblings and older, extremely talented siblings. I felt out of control and needed a way to express more control over my own life. It was on an especially low day in October of 2001 that I purged my dinner for the very first time.

            Eating disorder is a diagnosis that covers a wide variety of bases. From Anorexia Nervosa to Bulimia Nervosa to Binge-Eating Disorder, many factors play into the diagnosis of an eating disorder.  An eating disorder “include(s) extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.”(NEDA) The main factor when diagnosing an eating disorder comes down to the word obsession. Am I obsessed with my weight? Do I obsess over the food I eat? Am I obsessing over the comparisons of the people around me? An eating disorder can start out so simple. It can be noticing the differences between you and your peers and suddenly feeling a twinge of jealousy that your body doesn’t match theirs. But that jealousy or harmful thinking of ourselves is what leads to these decisions of controlling our weight in an unhealthy way. This idea that we need to be thin is something that we are bombarded with in magazines every time we go to a grocery store checkout or watch commercials on our television. So how does the media play a role in our perception of the people around us?

            We’ve all seen those magazine covers that portray new mothers who have gotten down to a pre-baby size and claim that it was all hard work and motivation. Most of these articles claim that anyone can look this great with determination and a lot of work. Although I don’t doubt that this is possible for some, it is articles like these that put subliminal messages in the minds of young people that being thin is extremely important. The media portrays women with boney bodies and claims that this is what beauty should look like but the truth is that our bodies are different. I could live at the gym or starve myself or put myself on a strict diet and I still wouldn’t look like a magazine model. In all honesty, most of the magazine models don’t look like magazine models. A main problem in the media is editing images to create a distorted reality of perfection. Every picture we view in a magazine is edited but claims that this is what beauty is all about. The idea that this perfection is not only possible but manageable is ludicrous. It isn’t possible for everyone because our bodies were created differently. How would the world be changed if the media, our families, and we celebrated our bodies and how unique they are? Would it make a difference in the amount of people suffering from eating disorders?

            The stigmas of an eating disorder make it very difficult for some to take this condition seriously. If you’ve seen the movie, Zoolander, you’ll remember a particular part in the movie where the models are discussing Bulimia Nervosa and joking about how that is a normal thing for a model to do. This creates the idea that the want to be thin outweighs any underlying health issues associated with eating disorders. Another stigma that creates problems is the significance of obesity in the media. Weight bias is real and can create many issues when it comes to obesity and eating disorders. “One source of weight bias may be the media, as stigmatizing portrayals of obesity are common even in the images accompanying online news stories ( Heuer, McClure, & Puhl, 2011). For example, obese people are often shown eating unhealthy foods or being sedentary, reflecting common weight stereotypes that obese people are unhealthy, lazy, lack exercise, and have poor eating habits ( Brochu & Esses, 2011).” This bias of obesity tells us that if we would all just get off the couch and go to the gym, obesity wouldn’t be a problem in our society and sadly, there are so many inaccuracies in that statement. Obesity can be related to so many other health conditions and isn’t always a lack of motivation for an individual. When society puts so much pressure on us to not gain weight or make sure we are as active as possible, people develop these obsessions that can lead to eating disorders and other mental health disorders.

            In an article written by Abby Ellin in the New York Times, she speaks of one of the most rampant eating disorders in the world, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, or Ednos. This disorder, which is vague in description but claims millions of sufferers starts with the onset of weight and food obsession. In her article, Abby describes how doctors didn’t know what to do with her or how to treat her problem. “No one at my college health center knew what to do with me. Clearly, I wasn't anorexic; I was slightly round, in fact. I didn't purge, so bulimia was out. To my distress, the counselors told me there was nothing they could do for me and sent me on my way.”(Ellin) Ednos is one of the leading diagnoses in eating disorders because almost no two eating disorders are alike. Although physical in nature, an eating disorder consumes the mind and is a very serious psychological problem.

            Eating disorders stem from a variety of problems. Psychological issues are a main factor in eating disorders and what causes them. Mental health is a subject that looms over our heads but nobody seems to know what to do about it. Victims of mental health can range from a person who hates themselves and causes self-harm to a person willing to go on a shooting rampage. These conditions are serious and according to one doctor, they need to be treated better in childhood. Pediatric surgeon Kurt Newman stated that “As with obesity and diabetes, pediatricians know that, by detecting disease in childhood and intervening early, we can have a tremendous effect on the health of that person in adulthood. By contrast, there is an average delay of eight to 10 years between the onset of symptoms and treatment for children with mental health issues. This is driven in part by a lack of focus on early identification. For the one in five children who has a mental health condition, such early recognition could be lifesaving.”(Newman) Eating disorders are a real and debilitating mental health disorder that can seriously affect the minds of those who are suffering.

            The fact is that eating disorders hurt our bodies and can even be fatal. “Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health. They are not just a “fad” or a “phase.” People do not just “catch” an eating disorder for a period of time.  They are real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.”(NEDA) Treatment needs to be more readily available for those who seek it and those who are too afraid to seek it.  In an article written for the Northern Ireland News, two young people who suffered with eating disorders had died as a result of their disorders. The mother of one of them said, “"It was a mental health issue. His personality started to take the form of someone who was depressed, who was very angry, very afraid and suicidal. But we never thought in one million years that Laurence would die."(NIN) But just like millions of other human beings who have suffered from the effects of an eating disorder, Laurence had a heart attack and passed away.

            Among many treatment problems, one that seems most prevalent when talking about eating disorders is the medical care available. Insurance companies don’t always cover mental health expenses and many of the people suffering with mental conditions cannot afford to seek the help they need. Regarding this problem, Dr. Kurt Newman stated that we need to “ensure access to medical care. Even with the most advanced approaches, real change cannot be achieved if the significant shortages in pediatric mental health providers are not addressed. This is a profound failing in a health system that is supposed to ensure children receive the best care.”(Newman) Many insurance companies don’t recognize mental health as the rampant problem that it is. Because there are no genetic facts about mental health and the problems that may arise in one’s life, it is hard to prove to an insurance company that a mental health problem exists in a patient, therefore making it difficult for that company to pay for services rendered.

            Another hard fact when it comes to the treatment of eating disorders is recognizing the problem. Many times, eating disorders go unrecognized because the sufferers remain silent. In a video entitled Battling Eating Disorders, the author talks about eating disorders and how to recognize if someone you love has a problem. Some of the main signs are a “deliberate self-starvation with weight loss, fears of gaining weight, self-perception of being fat, refusal to eat, avoiding eating in public, secret eating, denial of hunger, constant exercising, tiredness and difficulty with normal activities, sensitivity to cold temperatures, absent or irregular periods, going to the bathroom or toilet immediately after meals, using laxatives and vomiting to control weight, anxiety, depression, obsessive behavior or perfectionism and poor concentration, missing school, college or work.”(Battling eating disorders) Being able to recognize these signs in the people we interact with on a daily basis could end up being a factor in saving someone’s life. 

            The fact is that eating disorders need to be taken more seriously and the specific size of our bodies needs to be taken less seriously. It is detrimental to society to portray figures of people who seem to have reached perfection. That perfection isn’t possible and cannot be attained by most of the population obsessing over it. There is a real problem among society and the problem needs to be stopped with our children. Eating disorders need to receive not only medical attention but also, we need to stand against the media and demand the portrayal of a genuinely average person. Attaining the media’s idea of beauty is not only detrimental, most of the time it is unreachable. It’s time to rewire our minds to see the human body for the beauty it already possesses.
Citations:Battling eating disorders. (2006). Films On Demand. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from
Brochu, P. M., Pearl, R. L., Puhl, R. M., & Brownell, K. D. (2014). Do media portrayals of obesity influence
       support for weight-related medical policy?. Health Psychology, 33(2), 197-200. doi:10.1037/a0032592
Ellin, A. (2010, Jan 19). Redefining an eating disorder. New York Times. Retrieved from
Mills, T. (n.d.). Eating disorders: Sufferers unaware condition can be 'fatal'. BBC News. Retrieved
        February 24, 2014, from
National Eating Disorders Association. (n.d.). National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved February
        24, 2014, from
Newman, K. (2012, Dec 28). The treatment of mental conditions must start early (posted 2012-12-
        2801:13:37). The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why Divorce Hasn't Changed My Views on Marriage

 Thoughts of this post have been stewing in my head for months but I knew I wanted some time to really think about how to explain myself and also, how to help others going through something similiar.

When I woke up today, it seemed like the right day to start writing this.
As a little girl, I wanted life to be a fairytale. I dreamed of that man who would sweep me off my feet and who would always be there to love and care for me. 
I just knew that someday, I would be married in the temple and life would give me that stability I had always craved. I had such a firm belief in marriage and hoped that decision would get to be a part of my life someday.
We grow up watching fairytales and wishing those same things for our life but what we aren't always taught is the good is usually intertwined with some very hard. I use the word hard as a noun here because it doesn't have one simple meaning. Hard can mean debt or loss of trust or infidelity or little arguments or death or loss of motivation or impatience, among many, many other things. No one gets to have a perfect marriage because no one is perfect. Marriage isn't always fun and it takes work, a lot of work, to figure life out together but marriage is worth it.
And why do I believe marriage is worth it?
Marriage, when both parties are committed, is beautiful. It goes beyond a serious relationship because you have vowed to stick it out, through thick and thin. Marriage is loving someone at their best and continuing to love them at their worst. Marriage is trust, a whole lot of trust. It is teachable, humbling, and can be so much fun! Most importantly, I believe marriage is ordained of God. It is a sacred bond between two people who love and respect one another. I believe God is not only forgiving, He understands when marriages fall apart. He understands why and He knows that because of certain situations, it's ok to let go. But out of all the failed marriages, that isn't the case for even half of them. God wants us to give our heart to our spouse but to also love them enough to give them our time, our respect, and our trust. It's really hard work and some days, it seems like it would be easier to be single and have more freedom but I have been in a marriage where I wanted to succeed and I have been in a marriage where I wanted to give up {If you're confused, I'm referring to the same marriage since I've only been married once}, and I will say that when two people are working hard together, marriage a beautiful experience, far outweighing the pro's of being single.
As a wife who had just celebrated her one year anniversary, I was listening to some crap radio on the way to work when they were talking about infidelity and how it is very normal to cheat on your spouse around year 7. They justified infidelity on so many levels and I was floored. I knew I couldn't just sit there and listen to a discussion on such a sacred subject without adding my own thoughts. Something inside of me told me to call the radio station and I did. I was put on the air and started explaining what I believed and why I believed it. I was in the middle of saying something when the radio host asked how long I had been married. I gave them the honest answer and they started laughing. And not only did they laugh, they remained talking about me for at least a few minutes before I turned off the station, red with embarrassment.
I had only been married a year. I had no idea what that 7 year itch was like! I had no credibility.
That day, I was saddened by the loss of faith in marriage these days. I couldn't believe that some people thought marriage wasn't all that important and that committing to someone forever was truly unrealistic.
I knew my life would be different. We would get past whatever 7 year itch they were referring to because we were strong and committed.

And then one day, about 6.5 years into our marriage, one half of our marriage decided he wanted out and let me tell you, one of the first things that flashed through my mind was that radio conversation from 6 years ago. I was angry. Actually, angry is an understatement. I couldn't believe this was going to be my life. I tried to place blame everywhere, including on myself---and I still do at times.
We had become part of that norm. Our marriage that was supposed to last forever was dissolved in a matter of days. I knew when he moved out that he wouldn't be coming back, not because him or I had made any decisions but because I had prayed for days about it.
I tried to accept it. I tried to understand that I was now part of a social norm when I didn't want to be. It was my fairytale's nightmare.

But three days after it happened, three days after sinking so low and not wanting to leave my house and crying until there were no tears left, I picked myself up and decided this wasn't some norm. This wasn't the end of my fairytale. I had decisions in this!

So I decided not to lose my faith in marriage. I decided to trust that it would be possible to be with someone for eternity.
Although it is going to take a lot to trust and a lot of work, I have faith in marriage.
 I know marriage is hard. I know it is work. And I know it is scary.

But so is letting my children leave my sight and going to school full time and planning on being brave enough to own my own practice someday.

Life is scary because we don't get to decide what choices everyone else makes. We don't get to control the world and decide who stays in our lives and who leaves.

But we do get to decide how we handle life. We get to decide what attitude we have with the situations we are given. We get to decide if we are going to take the left path or the right path.
Yes, marriage takes two people but we really only get to decide if we are all in. We can't force anyone else. We can't make them stay or make them appreciate us. All we can do is try to show them we want them to stay and show them we appreciate them. How we treat others is 100% our choice and it is imperative that we take that choice seriously. We affect others on a daily basis.

Marriage taught me so much more than I ever could have imagined. As a young 19 year old girl, I was blissfully in love and felt like the heartache from my growing up years was over. But marriage taught me to look outside myself and live for someone else. Marriage taught me things I never planned on learning.
And divorce has taught me even more.
I think what I'm realizing is that it isn't about whether you've survived a divorce. are happily in a marriage, have gone through the death of a loved one, or are living another story, every day is teachable. Every experience I go through, good and bad, has it's moments where I can choose to learn or ignore.

My marriage didn't ruin me and my divorce won't ruin me. It may take more work than I wanted to get back to where I was but nothing gets to ruin me without my say!

That pain and heartache will someday be a thing of the past and I'll look back and see how much I've grown. I'm so grateful for an eternal perspective on life. I'm grateful to know that God loves me and never abandons me. I feel Him. I know He is there when I need Him most.

I believe in marriage. I believe marriage can work. I believe any two individuals working together will make a marriage work.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Let It Go

Help! I've jumped on a bandwagon and I can't seem to find my way off!

What bandwagon, you say?

Well, the Frozen bandwagon!

We saw the movie on my Christmas Eve with the kids last December. I cannot even begin to describe to you how magical it made our evening but trust me---it was magical.

Two minutes into the movie, I knew we were in for a treat. I knew I was going to love it because the music was already knocking my socks off.

Weeks after seeing it, I started seeing posts circulating on Facebook about hidden agendas in Frozen and why this movie was harmful for our children. Of course, I like to march to my own beat so I refused to click on these links but eventually, after a phone call with my sister, I gave in and read ONE article about the movie and it was then and there that I stopped.

You see, we all know that person who reads way further into anything than they should. We know that person who analyzes everything and even starts to make up a few "facts" out of their own opinions.

The movie, Frozen, is not about homosexual people---and if you'd like to watch it that way, more power to ya. But it's not. When I first stumbled upon a blog claiming this was the case, I was a little bummed because the song "Let It Go" has been sung around our house daily for weeks and let's be honest, most of those jam sessions were when I was alone.
I look at Elsa and I see myself. I see a scared little girl who doesn't know how to let go, who is afraid she'll hurt someone in the process. I see a girl who wonders when things will get better and if she'll ever feel free. And I imagine that girl letting go and becoming who she was meant to be. I see her blossoming and being strengthened and having the confidence to master anything she wants. She can build castles, she can move mountains, and certainly, she can be truly happy.

She's afraid if she lets them in, they'll see her imperfections. But she lets go anyway because there's no stopping her now. She's got this! Those fears that once controlled her no longer have to. She gets to see what she is made of and the divine power she has within her. She gets to be free to choose for herself what she is going to make of this thing she calls life.

So she lets go. And she lets Him in.

Together with God, she realizes how much power she has. She sees what she can create with Him by her side. She understands that the control she so desperately searches for is right in front of her. She may not be able to control who stays and who goes in her life. She may not be able to control if it rains or if the sun shines. But she can control who she is and who she will become. She has so much control over what her life is because He gave her the agency to choose.
That song is my life. I'm holding on so tight because I'm scared. I want to control everything around me because I often feel so out of control. But eventually, I'll learn to fully let go and trust Him.

Someday, it'll seem much more simple and I'll be able to let it go.

And in the meantime, I'll continue to sing about building snowmen and letting go with my two favorite people.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Loving Myself: Protecting Myself

 The thought of protecting myself has seemed so foreign since it was introduced to me weeks ago. When I say this, I'm not talking about a physical protection, although I could definitely work on that too. What I'm talking about is an emotional and spiritual protection.
I was once a little girl with so many dreams; dreams of becoming a famous actor or singer or dancer, dreams of making a huge impact on the world, dreams of volunteering in third world countries and saving lives, even dreams of becoming a surgeon and saving lives daily. As a child, this all seemed realistic and I imagined my life would be full of bliss and free of challenges---but then really, who ever imagines their life full of challenges when they are little?

As a little girl, I was often obnoxious, rude, and I felt like everyone's biggest problem. I always seemed to be in the way. I was sandwiched between amazingly, talented older sisters and two younger special needs siblings. I often believed I was bad because I craved attention all of the time. It was hard to feel stuck because when I didn't get attention, I was lonely but when I got attention, it was often in the form of someone telling me I was trying to get too much attention.

First issue: I felt like an attention-seeker.
 I look at pictures of that little girl and it makes me sad that I can't be the one to go back in time and protect her from her pain. I know my parents knew I "had issues" but no one really knew why or what to do about any of it. Not even me. I was taken to therapists but that only validated my feelings of being a bad kid because 'good kids don't see therapists'. Because I'm a member of a 6 kid family {and I wouldn't trade that for anything...well, maybe 200 million dollars...wait, no...I wouldn't trade it for anything! =)}, I know that getting my parents' attention full time wasn't feasible nor should it have been. But I do know that I needed someone, something to make me feel like I belonged.

I know that now, I didn't know it then.

I grew up so self-conscious about my personality that I overexagerrated often. I told people I prided myself in being different. I didn't want to be like them. I wanted to be over-the-top all of the time. And a part of that is true. I really, truly loved being me. 'Me' was such a special term because I liked who I was.
 But that didn't last forever. It became a hit and miss feeling. Sometimes I loved everything about myself and other times, I couldn't find one single thing to love. I stuffed a lot of pain deep down inside of myself because I didn't want to seem sad and quite frankly, I didn't want to be sad.

I used to think I was this open book, this person that overly-spilled her feelings but looking back and looking forward, my current therapist would laugh from that assumption. It's hard for me to open up about the real stuff. It's hard for me to get emotional because I'm so darn afraid of getting hurt or being judged or even just judging myself for seeming weak.

So many of those feelings seemed left behind when I graduated and was quickly married to that awesome guy who gave me two gorgeous children. I think marriage validated that I was worth something, that someone believed I was worth something. Marriage validated that I had someone who would always be rooting for me, who would always believe in me.

So you can imagine where this is going.

Divorce changed all of that.
 Feelings have resurfaced left and right, dating all the way to early childhood years. At first, I didn't understand this and I didn't want to face it. I absolutely adore my parents and have this fear that by talking about the hard in my childhood, things will resurface in all of us that will take things back to the way they were. Or maybe they'll think I'm ungrateful for the many good experiences I had. Or maybe everyone will perceive me as this giant attention-seeker because quite honestly, that's how I perceive myself.

When I serve others, I'm often double and triple checking to make sure I'm not serving "for the wrong reasons". And if I can successfully label any part of my service as attention-seeking behavior, I feel guilty and I tell myself I'm really, truly, an innately selfish being.

When I'm going through trials, there is a point where I have always believed everything should be better and I should no longer be hurting or bringing attention to myself because that is just overreacting and attention-seeking. My worry of not wanting to be an attention-seeker makes it so that I often lie about the way I'm feeling. And if I do tell the truth, my goodness I'm afraid I'll lose those people I trust so much in my life.

Because even people you trust can leave you.
So here we are. Today. I'm trying to grasp my head around the fact that I need to protect myself from myself. I need to be the type of person I can trust. The bully in my life is me and that is hard to realize.

I like to label a certain reaction of mine as the "spiral effect". In my life, this is the effect that happens when I see an imperfection in myself so I start beating myself down. I'm an emotional bully but only when it comes to me. I often perceive myself as this being that creates drama and annoys people around her. When people thank me for something good I've done, my mind says, "You did that good thing but...*insert some other excuse as to why I'm NOT good here*."

So my goal is to protect that little girl inside of me that always wanted love and sometimes needed extra attention. Instead of hating her and making things worse, I want to love her and encourage her to blossom.

Sounds easy, right?

No, not really. Not even a little bit.

But remember...I can do hard things.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Who Am I?

 I attended the sealing of one of my favorite friends and her husband on Friday and it was absolutely beautiful.
A question that I pondered that night and have been thinking about ever since then is, "Who am I?"
Yes, I'm Suzanne and I'm a mother and a student and a divorcee and a daughter and I'm wild and crazy and sarcastic but who am I?

I'm a princess. I'm a daughter of God. I'm learning how to be a queen.

It's so easy to write those things down or to say them when someone asks but do I really believe that? Do I treat myself like a daughter of God?

No. I don't. I'm trying to be completely honest here. I don't live my daily life as a queen, as the mother of God's prince and princess. I count all of my flaws and multiple them by one thousand and at the end of the day, I feel defeated. I feel like there is nothing I can give to these two special beings I've been entrusted to raise. I feel like there is nothing I can do to make myself believe I am good enough or smart enough or pretty enough.
I hardly ever give myself credit for the good things I do. I look at the good and compare it to my flaws and wonder if I'll ever measure up. But the truth is, my flaws don't negate my good choices. They don't even out the playing field. They are separate. God loves me when I fail and He is proud of me when I succeed.

God knows I'm trying. He sees it. And that is something I wholeheartedly believe. I believe He loves me and sees me as a princess. I believe He gets sad when I look in the mirror and tear myself down. I believe He is overjoyed when I help others or believe in myself.

A goal I've set for myself is to try and see myself as God sees me. I pray specifically for that every day and night. I try and keep that goal in my mind so that when I lose my temper or break myself down in a mirror or think mean thoughts about people, I know I can change and I know He still loves me.
 It's amazing what prayer can do. I know I've mentioned my struggle with self worth lately. I knew this was bound to happen because of everything going on but I also worried about how I would deal with it.
At first, it wasn't good. I not only started to think I was worthless, I started to think hateful thoughts about myself. I started to wonder why I was my childrens' mother because someone out there could probably do a better job. I started to wonder if anyone would ever love me again or if the love people have for me is real. I started to convince myself people are probably only my friends because they pity me, not because I'm nice or fun or a good friend.
But gradually, it's getting better. It's still a struggle. I still find Satan tip-toeing up next to me and whispering things in my ear that I choose to believe. I still find myself struggling to wonder if I'm really all that loveable. I still struggle to see myself as a great mother.

But I don't hate myself today. I see a glimpse of my worth today. I feel like I was meant to be their mother today.

I'm having a hard time seeing myself through His eyes but I have faith and I pray.
It's possible, my friends. If I didn't believe it was possible, I wouldn't be trying to achieve it.

I am a child of God and He has sent me here
Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me
Help me find the way
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It Isn't My Fault

I get really self-involved sometimes. It gets hard to see past my tunnel vision of "life". Sometimes, life seems really long and other times, it seems like I've blinked and am where I am today.

When I'm self-involved, I can feel myself spiraling downward. There is a lot of self-pity, self-doubt, and a non-existence of self-worth during this time. I doubt every move I've made and wonder what I could've done differently. I did this a lot when I was first diagnosed with infertility. I doubted my food choices, my exercise choices, my every-day-small-and-simple choices because I just knew that this was happening because of something I did. I told myself it was my fault.  

I'm not going to sit here and advocate for you to doubt yourself or tear yourself down but I will say this. Everytime I do this, I end up learning so much about myself and I usually end up with more admiration for myself in the end. It still isn't good. I still wish I could figure out how to heal without blaming myself for everything that goes wrong in my life. I wonder why I do this because when my head is on straight, I can clearly see that my trials aren't happening because I'm living life wrong. It isn't all my fault.

I can honestly say that I'm grateful for my infertility. I'm grateful for most of my trials. I learn a lot from them. I wouldn't be this certain Suzanne who is typing this without the trials that I've gone through.

Does that mean I am happy about my trials and the heartache they've cause? Nope. I think there is a big difference between loving your trials and being grateful for them. I'd do it over again to learn what I have but I wouldn't love the process. The process is hard. It's hard work trying to weed through the hard times we face in life. It's hard to have faith at all times and not to let our minds wander to the 'why's'.

But the thing is, life just isn't fair.

We look at others and envy what they have but the silliest part is that we have no idea how their journey has been to get there. And it may even seem as though their journey has been easy but who flipping cares?! God gives us what we need to learn and grow in life. He doesn't make everything equal for everyone so feeling sorry for ourselves when we're envious of others does no one any good. Actually, it just makes things worse.
I'm often self-conscious and try to tip toe around others because I don't want to come across as the loud, annoying, and sometimes crazy girl. But guess what? I am loud. I am crazy. And gosh darnit, sometimes I'm annoying. But I'm me. I know I'm also sensitive and caring and compassionate. I love laughing and making others laugh.

So my goal is to let go of my fears and really embrace my New Year's resolution for this year. There were reasons I chose the word "brave" and I want to accomplish that this year. I want to be brave enough to be myself and not worry about what other people think of me.

What matters is what I think of me and what God thinks of me.

And all of this goes for you as well. Love you. Be the real you. I can bet you'll find you're happier in doing so.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Helping with Heartache

 I've been learning a lot about myself lately---things I never would've thought of without the help of another person. I'm incredibly grateful to be able to receive help in so many different forms from so many different people.

I know I've mentioned that I still get lonely, even when I know I'm surrounded by some of the most loving people. The thing is, I recognize how much people love me but it's hard to understand that until I learn to love me like they love me.

I struggle---a lot---with beauty and what defines beauty. I find myself looking at the world's definition of beauty and thinking I need to fit that mold but ironically, I've never been one who liked fitting into molds.

I've been marching to the beat of my own drum since I was a kid so I hate that I let myself believe I'm not good enough as is. I grew up very proud of who I was and what I was becoming and yet, I like the girl I am now better than the girl I was then. So why do I struggle?

Why do any of us struggle? Why are we so much harder on ourselves than we are on others?

Blogging is so therapeutic and yet, so weird at the same time. I often get asked by people what they can do for me and how they can help me. The answer is simple: you can't fix this. I know it sounds harsh but there are no magical potions or puzzle pieces you can place that will fix how I feel. That's the truth with all people that struggle.

But if you want to help someone you love, I'd be hapy to give you my two cents on what helps and what doesn't help.

*You can pray. Prayer is real and it works. Praying for someone you love and know is struggling will help them.
*Be available when you can but don't be there when you can't. Your friend may need you but they don't need to be taking you away from your own needs and families. I like to rotate friends when I feel I need someone because I don't want to burn anyone out. It's hard to hear negative things or have to help someone who is emotional and that's ok to not be able to do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It doesn't mean you don't love your friends. When you can't be with them, pray for them. :)
*Listen. When you have a friend who needs to talk, they know you can't fix their problems but it is always helpful to have someone who will listen. Often times, advice doesn't help because advice is very opinionated and ends up making the person feel worse. One of my least favorite things to hear when going through infertility was "Just relax and it'll happen" as if relaxing could magically cure the diagnosis my doctor had given me. I knew those people were trying to help but it always made me feel like if there was something I could be doing that I wasn't doing, I must be pretty dumb. It never helped me feel better and trust me, relaxing didn't get me pregnant so...
*Pray some more for them.
*Don't judge them. It's hard enough being the friend who wants to trust someone with their heartache but it's even harder when you're worried that you'll be judged for your feelings. People need love, a lot of love, and judging them for their struggles does no good for either one of you.
I'm trying to be more real so I'm not going to sit here and tell you I love myself today and am done aching and worrying and crying. I'm not. And though I wish someone would just tell me the time frame I'm looking at with this, that just isn't going to happen.

But I will say this---I have faith that it is going to get better. Maybe not today, tomorrow, or even this month but I have faith that in time, everything is going to be just fine. And I hold onto that faith with a very strong grip because it's the only thing getting me through right now.

I may not want to talk and I may want to. That's the reality of heartache. Some days, I'm open and other days, it's all inside because I need a moment to pretend I don't feel this way. So I'm sorry if I'm confusing. I'm just trying to figure this all out.
In the meantime, goofing off with some of my favorite children {neither pictured are my own} keeps me sane. I'm so thankful for the people God has place in my life, including the littles He has placed in my life. Have I mentioned that lately?