Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bravery: 2014

At the beginning of 2014, I wrote this post where I chose my word for the year.

It's a funny thing, the words I choose. Every year, I pick them and every year, they end up applying to my life even more than I anticipate.

I can count numerous times this year when the word bravery was directly applied to a decision or action in my life.
There was this post where I shared my views on divorce and how it hasn't changed my belief in marriage. Getting used to openly talking about divorce wasn't an easy thing. I was fearful of the judgement. But I did it anyway because I needed my voice to be heard.
This year, I made hundreds of new friends---some I've met and some I hope to meet in person someday. I might have forced myself into some of their lives and trusted my brave heart to lead me in the path I needed to go and my goodness, it turned out so incredibly sweet in the end.
I have learned to fight this year---I went from slowly killing myself daily to putting myself in recovery from my eating disorder, I have learned to openly talk about pornography and share my views on the effects of it's entrapment, and I have slept in my bed alone for over a year with only minor middle-of-the-night freak outs.

I have dated. Oh what a fun and seriously stupid world the dating world is... I really don't have much to say about it but for me, dating has been extremely brave.

School. I have completed two semesters of full time school this year and gotten through one of the most triggering classes I've ever had to endure---and I raised my hand and spoke my mind about why I don't agree with mainstreaming pornography.

I was chosen to be a recipient of the Bright Effects day and I completed a photoshoot of just me...no kids...just my beautiful insecurities, all wrapped up into one mold of a warrior.

I started working again---and it was all sorts of messy for a while. Juggling work, school, and motherhood was not very fun for a while. Ninja would say the same thing if you asked him. It was hard. I was constantly getting anxious and running from one place to the next, trying to devote my attention to whomever needed it the most in that minute. Luckily, we have fallen into a groove and things have gotten so much better!

My bravery took us on two trips, one to California and one to Utah. I also took a trip to Las Vegas with friends, where I bravely wore my "Porn Kills Love" shirt on the LV Strip.

There have been so many moments this year where I've questioned myself. I doubt my abilities a lot. I worry about whether this blog is the right thing, whether my parenting is good enough, and whether I'm acting with authenticity. I want to be real and allow you to see the messy mixed in with the beautiful.
I struggle to find who I really am. I have changed so much this year and although so many aspects of that are beautiful, some of them aren't as great. Sometimes I surprise myself with how much anxiety can take over within seconds or how my fears cause me to believe really ugly things about myself.
Other days I surprise myself with how confident I am.
But mostly, it's just been hard trying to figure out who this new Suzanne is. I battle that one out in my mind often---way too often.

There have been so many reasons to celebrate my bravery this year. I've done a lot of things I didn't believe I'd be capable of doing.

Which brings me to 2015:
I have thought about what word I should pick to represent this next year of my life.
Most of the words I wanted to pick were synonyms with bravery: courage, strength, etc. They all seemed like decent words but I knew none of them were the word I was looking for.

I was looking at this new family picture yesterday and the word seemed to be staring me in the face...

With all of my pain and struggle between divorce and my eating disorder, I have tried to focus on my own healing but it has never received enough attention.

This year, I am putting more focus on my own personal recovery. I'm going to figure out who I am and who I truly want to be.
I am going to fight for myself so that I am able to fight for those two beautiful children of mine.

The past 3 years, I've tried to make it a goal to go to the temple 12 times (which would equal out to once a month) and each year, I get somewhere between 6-9. Not this year. This year I surpassed my goal and although I am not going to put a specific number on my temple attendance this next year, I have seen what going to the temple does for my life and I am going to continue making it a priority.


I have so much faith that healing my heart is possible. I have faith in my ability to figure this new life out.

To end my year of bravery, and to start another year of bravery, I recorded a song that I heard for the first time tonight---because I'm really good at winging things around here. This is my last post of 2014 and I really wanted to share something special with all of you, my warrior friends.
I want to leave you with a thousand disclaimers but I think the bravest part of posting this is just leaving this video for you to listen to and judge for yourself. No disclaimers. Just me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

 I knew this Christmas was going to be full of magic. It just had to be.
This is most likely the last Christmas I will ever spend with my kids on Christmas Eve AND Christmas day because of our parenting plan.
I had all of our presents bought weeks ago. It was small but small is ok. In fact, I liked small this year.
On Christmas Eve, the kids opened their new pajamas and both of them were overjoyed. We had spent most of the afternoon/evening with my parents, taking family pictures and eating delicious food, so by the time we got home, it was already past bedtime.

As soon as the kids went to bed, I got started on my Santa duties.

I thought it would take longer to put Ninja's drums together but they actually weren't too bad. I got it all done within the hour and I headed to bed for the night.
 The morning was, as expected, all sorts of magical. The kids were both full of gratitude that Santa had listened to their requests. We were wrapped up in happiness and family time for most of the time.

And then 2pm rolled around and my kids left to their dads house---and selfish me, I started to ache to have them back. And not only did I ache to have them back, I started to feel sorry for myself that I was single. My sisters were planning a date night with their husbands to the movies and I didn't want to go. Instead, I headed to my best friend's house and spent the rest of the day with her family.

As I was contemplating the afternoon of Christmas, I struggled with a few things. I felt guilty for not wanting to be around my family after my kids left. I wasn't sure they would understand. I wasn't sure they would be happy about it.
In the past year, I've learned some things about myself and one of those things is that it's hard to be around my nieces and nephews when my kids are gone. I find myself missing them more. I still spend time with my family when my kids aren't there but I avoid it sometimes. I've also found that it is really hard to go on "dates" with my sisters or friends and their spouses. I feel like a third or fifth or ninth wheel.

But guilt aside, it was a great afternoon. I'm so grateful my friends are so welcoming. They get it. They love me. I am a part of more than one family these days.

Along with Christmas day came the thought that I'd actually get Christmas cards out this year.
About that...
They're currently all printed and sitting on my desk. They just haven't left my desk. And I'm not sure if they will ever leave my desk...

But it was the first year I've ever printed Christmas cards so maybe next year will be the first year I mail some out.
 I jotted down some highlights of 2014 for our family.
And filled the other side with pictures...because I LOOOOOOOOVE pictures.

I'm sorry you may not have gotten a card from us and if you did, you should feel extra lucky because you're probably one of three people.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Am Enough

Why is this so easy to forget?

The words look so simple on paper.

You are enough.

12 letters full of truth.

I have been on a struggling roller coaster through hell lately and I'm trying to swim up for a breath of air.
It's been quieter this time, slowly seeping through the cracks of the warrior walls I've been working so hard to build. It wasn't a sudden change but I may not be telling the truth if I said it wasn't expected. I think somewhere deep down I knew my work wasn't over. Deep down, I knew I didn't believe my own recovery words.

But although my fight hasn't ended, I haven't given up. In between the really low moments, I take a deep breath and become more authentic and empathetic. I learn new things. I am able to understand more.

I find myself longing to just be home with my children and realizing just how important my life is with them in it. I find myself wanting a marriage that will last through eternity and trying to work toward whatever that will look like when the time comes. I find myself reciting affirmations in the mirror every morning when I get up.

I've come on here to write this post five different times in the past few weeks and each time I try to finish it, I am pulled away by children or I get frustrated because 'authentic me' is afraid of this blog. Authentic me doesn't know which learning experiences to share and which ones to save for face to face conversations. I'm pretty much an open book. I try to be that way because I believe God gave me experiences that can help others. I want to share my life with whomever needs to hear it. Sometimes I just struggle with what that looks like.

My life has changed so much in the past 2 years. I went from struggling to find friends to having so many friends that I want to spend my time with. I went from married to single. But most importantly, I think the reason I would never in a million years change these past few years is because of how much I've learned about life and love and happiness.

I struggle every day of my life with the thoughts that "I'll be happy once I'm married again". I thought that marriage is what made me worthy. Marriage meant somebody loved me. But although I genuinely still struggle with those beliefs, there is a part of me that knows it isn't true.

First of all, sadly, marriage does not guarantee someone loves me. A good marriage is made up of two people who are willing to be authentic with each other and strive to meet the needs of their partner. I wish I could say that is the case with all of our marriages but it isn't.

As a young 19 year old girl, I thought marriage was going to fix all of my past problems. I was marrying a returned missionary in the temple. He was supposed to be perfect. We would have five children and I would stay home while he finished school and provided for us and LIFE WOULD BE GRAND, DAMNIT! I know...it's quite laughable now. Now that I am on the other side of my fairy tale life, I can see how detrimental that kind of thinking is. Because life isn't some fairy tale and I think if we could all learn from our experiences the way I find myself learning, we wouldn't want it to be a fairy tale. 

Marriage doesn't fix problems. Ugh. Groan. Sigh...
I feel like I've heard that message a million times. Suzanne, getting married won't fix your problems. And yet, I find myself arguing, "Well, maybe marriage doesn't fix everyone's problems but surely it'll fix mine..." because I'm all sorts of stubborn and I like to argue with reality.
But the reality is that marriage doesn't fix problems. This is something that has taken me a while to really grasp. Because if marriage gives me worth, it certainly would fix half of the problems I currently have. I've fought with these ideas time and time again but what I've learned is that the above statement is true.
Although marriage can be beautiful, it isn't going to fix your problems.

This is one of the reasons I still fight for myself and my recovery. I want to be married and I know a marriage would fail or at least be much harder if I step into it still entrapped by an eating disorder. I understand that...and so I fight.
I fight for myself and for my future. 

I was talking to a friend about this the other day---about how I believe it's possible to love my life without loving myself. It seems kind of backwards. You would think if I'm not happy with who I am, I wouldn't be happy with what I have but the truth is, that is my life most of the time. I struggle to look at myself in the mirror and believe that I am enough. I spend a lot of time thinking about the "if only's". But I recognize the good all around me. My friendships, my family, my children---each one brings so much light into my life.

I want to believe that I am capable of greatness. I want to believe that I can love myself fully someday.

It has been a long journey and I expect it to continue. But I often think about the future, when I'm old and gray and am looking back on the past. I imagine it will be truly amazing to be able to see the whole picture and realize that I never gave up on myself.

Because warriors don't give up.
And I am a warrior.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


I am not going to sit here and tell you that it is always going to be ok.
Because some days will be really crappy.
I don't care who you are or what your life is like, you will have bad days.
So it isn't necessarily a matter of making every day amazing---it seems like the heart of the matter is making sure we are strong enough to handle the days where we are punched in the stomach over and over.
We can choose our safe places. 
But sometimes our safe places are compromised.
We build them. They seem like they're strong. And then someone finds a way to destroy a piece.
We have to learn to rebuild them over and over again.
Because we are going to have to.
This is life.
Although we can find safety in outside sources, I think safety needs to generate from within.
Because "What can I change about this situation?" seems like a much stronger question than "Will you protect me from this change?"
It shouldn't be about what life gives or takes away--it should be about what we put into life and what we take away from the experiences we are given.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that everyone will love you.
They won't.
You will find that even on your most genuine of days, people will judge you frontward and backward. They might do it behind your back or they might do it to your face but it will happen.
Your job is to love you.
Your job is not to judge them.
Two wrongs don't make a right. But if you take one wrong and one right, you can feel peace knowing that you made the right decision.
People will call you ugly, horrible things. They will think you are someone you are not.
Life will knock you down.
Get back up.
You need to get back up.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that this rollercoaster ever ends.
I really don't think it does.
What I do think is that when we face the bad days, we get braver. And when we bask in the goodness of the good days, we have more gratitude.
Be your authentic you.
Love the you that you already are.
People might tell you it isn't good enough. But you're here. You're breathing. You're trying. You are good enough.
"As I began to love myself, I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today I know this is "AUTHENTICITY". -Charlie Chaplin-

Today this is my favorite quote.

Today I believe that authenticity is what keeps me going.

Sometimes I fight the feelings in my heart that tell me I don't hate people. Sometimes I want to hate people that treat me wrong. But I cannot and will not become a person that I am not because of the actions of someone else. I will not hate others because that is not who I am.

I fight to be authentic. I fight because I do not want to forfeit who I am for who someone believes I am.

We cannot rely on the actions of others to determine our lives.

I am going to get up tomorrow---and the next day, and the next day...---with genuine intentions to be me.
Although this looks different every single day, being authentic to myself is what keeps me able to empathize more openly and sort my feelings more efficiently.

I will not believe the negative things said about me because for every negative lie, there are a thousand positive truths.

Today I believe the truths.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Be The Good

I question my intentions a lot.

A lot. A lot.

This has so many pros and cons. On the one hand, I want to be secure in who I am and the choices I make. On the other hand, I want to make sure my intentions are accurately sincere.

Because what I really strive for is sincerity.

I am not a 1950's housewife who has the table set every night at 5:00pm and a perfectly tidy house. I am perfectly capable of being me without having a companion by my side. My sarcasm is thick, I'm often obnoxious, and I'm also one of the most compassionate people you will ever meet.

These aren't things I was taught. These aren't things that society or my parents have engrained in me from a young age.

My experiences have shaped me but they didn't create me. They molded the already existing me; the me who curses often and loves to dance and is sometimes so awkwardly open that it makes people squirm.

I was me before any of this began.

I may not always be confident but it only takes a small amount of courage for me to become a lion.

A friend and I were discussing this today---sincerity and so many things that encompasses. We started talking about Relief Society, which is a program that was created within the LDS church when Joseph Smith was the prophet. My favorite description of the Relief Society can be found in the church handbook and it states that Relief Society was established for "...the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan...".

The destitute.

Not the perfect. Not the "have it all together".

Relief Society is for those of us who don't have it all together.

Sometimes I just don't understand it. I don't understand why it isn't ok to sit down on Sunday and when the person next to you asks how you are doing, you say, "My husband is dealing with an  addiction right now and it has been really hard on me." and be able to talk about how life is hard and everyone has unique challenges and we are all in this together---no judgment---just unity and a whole lotta love.
Because in the above situation, the response might be, "I have been feeling worthless and I don't always believe the people in my life really love me." Or maybe the response might be, "I can't even imagine what that must feel like. Can I take you out for ice cream tomorrow so you can get some things off your chest?"
I have been LDS my entire life but through some of my most destitute times, I have seen this world in a completely different light.
And it is a light. It isn't a darkness.
I have seen beauty where most people would claim only dark clouds reside.

I used to struggle to have faith in humanity when I would catch glimpses of the news or experience hostility in various situations. I mean, hello...Ferguson? I didn't even have to be a news watcher to see the anger and hatred that can cause people to make horrific decisions. I wondered if maybe my broken-but-still-slightly-intact rose-colored glasses were just my imagination.
I wanted to see the good.

It took me a while to realize that instead of looking for the good, I have the ability to be the good.

I can restore someone else's faith in humanity instead of waiting for someone to come hand me my own dose of faith. And when I pass out smiles to the people I come in contact with, my faith in humanity is equally restored when I experience the majority of them smiling back.

All it takes is a tiny dose of bravery and a whole bunch of love.

I know we are getting there. I can feel it. I have experienced so many real moments in my own church and within my every day relationships. It is possible because we are capable.

Love wins, my friends. It takes love to battle the evil we are exposed to. Hate doesn't conquer hate. Love conquers hate.

I look forward to the day when judging each other holds no weight. I believe it will come. I believe the harder life gets, the more beauty we are able to recognize. Instead of focusing on the wrongs in the world, let's choose to be the rights. Let's choose to create a life we can be proud of individually---not a life we live because we feel pressure to be a certain way or fit a certain mold.

There are no molds. If there were, God would have created us all with the same exact physical features and identical life experiences.

I have realized that I don't have a mold. There is no one I need to be other than the person I already am. When I fall down or make a life decision that most people wouldn't agree with, I remind myself that this is who I am. People don't need to understand it. Honestly, I would never expect people to understand every decision I make.

You don't have to understand someone to love them.

We all have the capability to get acquainted with our own sincerities. Don't hide who you are out of fear.

Be you.

And I'll be me.