Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dear Women

Dear lady who judges the less active members at church,
I used to be you.
I have sat in a congregation and wondered why certain people weren't there. I have thought to myself, "If they would just pray more, read their scriptures more, etc., their testimony would be stronger and they would be here." I used to judge that they didn't have their priorities straight and that all it would take is them trying harder.

And then I became the girl who struggled going to church. I became the girl who often fought prayer at night because she didn't have the energy to recount every hard thing that had happened that day. I became the girl who was afraid to cry because she feared she wouldn't be able to stop---and prayer always brought tears.

I have learned that this isn't black and white, that my Heavenly Father understands my intentions every single night. He knows my choices and He waits patiently for when I come to Him. But He never scolds me for not showing up. He knows I am doing my best right now.

Dear mom who judges other moms for allowing their children to watch exuberant amounts of tv,
I used to be you.
Before I had children and even for a few years after having them, I made sure they didn't watch too much television. I thought moms like that were just lazy and didn't want to spend the time with their children. I vowed never to be that mom.

And then I became the mom who allowed her children to sit in front of the tv for hours on end. Although not a daily thing, on my hardest days as a single mom, I turn the television on and lay down in my bed or get homework done. I try my hardest to make the other times count, the times when the television isn't on, and I feel like for now, that's the best I can do.

I have learned that this isn't black and white, that parenting is different for everyone. There is no one right way. I have learned that parenting is hard and that no one is perfect at it. We all make mistakes...but the important thing is that we try again the next day.

Dear woman who views divorced couples as weak and selfish,
I used to be you.
There was a time when I looked down on divorced couples because of their lack of commitment. Why choose to get married and have children if you're just going to break up your family? Why not fight harder, try harder, be better?

And then I became the woman who filed for divorce. Years ago, I would've judged my choices as selfish and the thing is, maybe there is some truth to that. Maybe filing for divorce was selfish---because I was losing myself. I knew I had done everything I could do up until that point. I knew my husband wasn't coming back. I wanted relief from the pain that had been present in a lot of my marriage.

I have learned that this isn't black and white, that on the outside we might judge why a couple is getting divorced but we will never know the full story. We have not been there every second of their lives. We don't know their emotions, their pain, and their betrayal. And even to the couples who seem to get divorced when "they could've made it work", it just doesn't matter. Who are we to judge their decisions?

Life is tricky. It's messy and confusing. We have all been the judge and the judged. We all know what it feels like to wish the whole world knew our pain so they would understand why we make the choices we do.

But we aren't perfect. We all make mistakes. The best thing we can do is own our mistakes and try harder to have compassion the next time.

We may never be able to walk in someone else's shoes but we can choose to trust that they are doing the best they can with the life they're living.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Owning Our Stories

Blogging isn't always easy for me. Often times I worry about how my words will be perceived when I hit that orange "publish" button.

Owning who I am right now is scary because who I am right now is messy.

I've seen the blogs where everything seems picture perfect and many times, I've later found out that things weren't picture perfect. I try to make sure I'm not just showing you 'picture perfect' but I also don't want you to think that it's all bad or that I am always struggling.

It's a rollercoaster.

I'm currently experiencing an emotional hangover from The Togetherness Project, which was held in Phoenix over the weekend.
I felt a lot of feels this weekend. Some were highs but a lot were extreme lows. It's hard to trust life the way it currently is. It's hard to spend a weekend with friends while feeling guilty for leaving my kids after a busy week where I hardly spent time with them. Balance has been tricky and it's incredibly exhausting.

The classes at Togetherness were my favorite by far. The day was long but I was able to hear some pretty remarkable people teach and tell their stories.

I was able to meet some out of town friends that I had only cultivated a relationship with online. They came from all around, including Kansas and Alaska. Although I already knew I loved them, meeting them in person cemented those feelings much deeper. Togetherness is an interesting world. It is a place made up of women who live all different lifestyles but understand and empathize with each other. It doesn't matter what religion you are, where you live, or how you dress---Togetherness blends us all together to create an amazing group of warriors.

Enduring the addiction of a loved one is painful and hard. Often times you feel alone. You lose hope and feel discouraged that life will never get better. You may try and rescue your loved one or cut yourself off from them but no matter how you deal with it, you experience heartache.

A few years ago, this was me. I didn't even understand my feelings of anxiety back then. I didn't know why I always felt unstable in my seemingly stable marriage. It took years for all of the pieces to fall into place and when they did, I felt so alone and rejected and terrified of what the future would hold.

Togetherness changed that. I was suddenly meeting women who understood my fears and I was able to provide support for others who had felt alone.

It was beautiful. It is beautiful. 

As I fight through the despair that tries to grip my heart and diminish my faith, I am reminded that I am not alone. I am reminded that people love me. They love the things that I hate about myself. They stick around even when I struggle to believe that I am worthy of them. They are my heroes, my sisters, and my friends.

And in my life, I am blessed that they are not only the people I've met this past year. They are childhood friends and church members and neighbors and family. They surround me and pick me up when I fall to the ground.

I am truly scared of how my life will turn out. I am angry and insecure and my life feels unstable---but during these times when owning my story means telling you it's really hard, I also need to own the part where others pick up my slack. I also have to include the many times I've found others loving my children and giving them the attention that I can't always give or the people who have pulled weeds or helped with the housework I find myself struggling to accomplish.

Although I am struggling to love myself, I am so very loved. I am so very wanted on this earth and when I repeat that over and over again, it helps me to get through these times when I don't feel like I'm worthy of life.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Purple Everything

 It was a crazy week.

Every day, my Facebook notifications were 20+. I tried to scroll through all of them but once in a while, I'd miss one and see it later.


Purple everywhere.

Purple shoes, purple nails, purple cups, purple hair, purple clothes...people were posting purple and sharing it on Facebook to honor National Eating Disorder Week.

It was beautiful. And scary. And overwhelming.

I'd like to tell you that the week was easy for me, that I didn't have to fight my eating disorder because of the recognizable love and support. But it wasn't easier. In fact, it was harder. I felt unworthy of the love. I felt worried that my story being shared over and over would land me in a place where no one would want to be my friend.

But it isn't true. That was ed talking.
My warrior friend, Tc, started this all. I remember when I first read her story and saw that she was asking people to wear purple for eating disorder awareness and then send her the pictures. I wore purple that Wednesday...silently...because I had yet to meet this friend in person and I was nervous.

I wasn't yet ready to open up about the severity of my struggles.

But I cannot believe what this year has done for me. I cannot believe what Tice has done for me.

Seeing all of the purple this week was powerful. Some of my coworkers wore purple on Wednesday and I had to hold back tears. It really touched my heart to see the support.
 On Wednesday, I decided it was time to put some wild color in my hair again and obviously I chose purple. I love it so much and am so happy I did it.

All week, friends were tagging me in their purple photos. These are just a few of them...

 And every day as I struggled to feel worthy of this love, I was able to keep going as I would stare at these pictures.

Saturday came and I was getting super excited for the National Eating Disorder Awareness walk the next morning. Last minute, I decided to make shirts for everyone we were walking with (15 of us total) so I stayed up late and painted NEDA WALK 2015 on all of them and on the back of each, I wrote "I walk for..." and filled in the blank with a personal message on everyone's shirts. Tc's family did the walk with us and I made each of them a shirt that said, "I walk for my (daughter, sister, aunt, mom, wife, etc)."
 As I walked behind my beautiful children and read the messages on their shirt, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the beauty of my life. We had talked ahead of time and I had explained a little bit of why we were doing this walk. Both of my children were proud to do it for their mom.

 Princess had a blast pushing the jogging stroller most of the walk.
 Tc and I had different shirts than everyone. Mine said, "I walk because I have worth" and hers said, "I walk because I am a warrior". We did this walk for ourselves. We also did it for others who have or are struggling with an eating disorder.
 Even the baby got NEDA pants. I painted NEDA on the bum and the front knees said NEDA 2015. Everyone loved her pants and she looked adorable.
 Not only did I walk for myself, I walked to teach my children a little about eating disorders and how real and scary they can be. I had the opportunity to have so many talks with them this week on body image and loving ourselves.
 I am so proud of them for taking that journey with me and being so willing to walk for their mom.
 If you didn't know, Princess and I are pretty similar in personality. :)

 Princess and Bella are two of my favorite girls in the whole world. I love both of them so much. Bella is Tc's daughter and it was so fun for these girls to be able to walk with each other.
 They are both brave warriors.
It was an incredible time and as we drove away from the Phoenix zoo, my daughter said, "Mom, can we please do that walk again next year? I loved it." And the answer to that question is yes.

We will do that walk every year we are able because it is personal. I have fought and continue to fight my eating disorder. It might seem like it isn't that big deal. Maybe it seems like I'm doing ok because I'm not a size 0 and my bones aren't sticking out---but eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. This is real for me and I hope and pray I will be able to teach my kids to honor and love their bodies, no matter the size of their clothing or the blemishes on their skin.