If you’re an avid reader of Kerri’s blog (and if you aren’t, you should be), you’ve seen these posts before – and I really admire them. They’re – to me – what blogging should be about. They’re about creating an account of your life online – the reason I began blogging in the first place! So I thought I’d offer her the ‘highest form of flattery’ and do my own!
I am learning to embrace who I am this year – it’s sort of my resolution. I’ve spent most of my life trying to fit into the mold everyone needs me to be so they like me, and it’s really exhausting. The worst part is – I actually like who I am. I just give myself coronary attacks over the thought that someone else might not. So, without further ado, here are some pretty bold statements about myself. If you can’t love me after this, then that is a shame, because I think I’m a pretty neat person to love.
…someone who uses curse words. Sponge Bob likes to call them “sentence enhancers” but let’s not kid ourselves. I don’t know why I do – I don’t think it’s cool. In fact, I was SO afraid to try them out that I distinctly remember being 12 years old and standing in a far corner in our garage, whispering them. My BFF at the time, who was an AVID sentence enhancer, was encouraging me — and even though no one had heard us, when I went back inside and walked past my dad, I felt terrible. But now I’m a grown up, and I curse. I was raised by an often foul-mouthed and always hilarious sailor of a father, and it rubbed off. And that’s okay. I don’t curse at work, I don’t curse during any non-casual moment (and unlike apparently everyone else, I still think ‘crap’ is a curse word). But if you’re family or a friend, and I want to say something is “shitty” or a bunch of “bullshit” or maybe even pretty “fucking” fantastic, I want to be able to without fear that you’re immediately categorizing me into a trashier, less valuable person than I am. I also know that these aren’t words you say near children, so I’m slowly building my ‘near-children’ repertoire to be more creative than the people who exchange curse words with things like “effin” and “shiz” – so don’t worry. Because I do find it absolutely trashy when curse words are said where kids can hear (I put ‘mom words’ along the same line as ‘while at work’ words).
…not religious. There, I said it. I’m pretty sure this was obvious, but I’m a little quiet on the subject because I lost my best friend of 19 years when she found her faith and broke off our friendship because I didn’t, and because I have very dear-to-my-heart family who deeply is, and I worry that somehow MY personal beliefs will make them stop loving me as much. I wasn’t raised with any faith – we were simply raised under the very basic and always applicable concept of the Golden Rule. And that was enough to grow us into adults who volunteer their time, care about all species, advocate for those who need it, and believe in being the good we wish to see in the world. I don’t mind if you’re religious, there are even admittedly times I wish I could be, but it just isn’t there – so I just ask that you respect that I am not on the same level that I respect that you are. I’m not sure what I am. It fluctuates often between atheism and agnosticism. I do know a few things I don’t believe: I don’t believe that you need faith to be ethical and full of solid morale – I believe those are two completely separate entities. I don’t believe in organized religions. Any available texts were written by humans, and as a species we’re designed to cultivate things (intentionally or not) with our own personal survival and bias, so I don’t believe in any written texts from any religion. I also feel they tend to divide us more than unite us, so it’s simply not for me. That doesn’t mean someone can’t believe in a higher power, though, or that it can’t be for you. For now, when people ask me what I believe, I tell them I believe in being a good person. I believe in leaving this world in a better place than when I found it. And at the end of the day, if I am wrong about a god, I’ll just have to hope they judge based on actions and not on belief – and can recognize a good person when they meet them.
…letting go of unhealthy relationships, even those a person feels naturally obligated to maintain. I think people, especially women, tend to lose sight of how valuable this is. I am slowly reducing (or cutting) ties with the things and people in my life who don’t bring me positives. It truly is too much of an energy drain to put forth more effort than you receive, and because I do love myself, I am no longer willing to do it. This does not mean being rude to anyone, or cutting ties with people you HAVE to play nice with on some level (like coworkers). Accepting that you don’t need to keep everyone happy, or maintain unhealthy bonds just because you feel you’re terrible if you don’t, is incredibly freeing. So this year, I am learning to put in not too much more than I am getting out.
…an ex drug addict. A tough adolescence led me to the rave scene (although the drug use came a year into it and wasn’t really connected, believe it or not), where as cheesy as it sounds, I found a level of acceptance and love that I hadn’t experienced in years. But it eventually led to daily recreational drug use of a wide variety. If you’re nosy, no, I never shot anything up or sat around smoking anything from a spoon, thanks. IMO, there are many levels of narcotics and I had zero interest in jumping off that particular cliff (though, frankly, marijuana is one I feel should be on the same level as booze — and I say that as someone who never bothered with that one at all). But use things I did. And then, one day, I woke up and looked around and thought… this isn’t who you want to be. It isn’t even who you are – it’s just a poor skill you’ve learned in an attempt to push through things. It isn’t going to go anywhere helpful. And if you can’t enjoy your life with an unaltered mind, maybe the real focus should be on creating one that you can. You can only avoid feelings and situations for so long before you have to deal with them. And so I stopped. Quite literally that day. And if you met me now, you’d likely never guess. It’s been over a decade. I’m the horribly responsible, sincerely dependable, very organized, very dedicated, very sober person who can count on a single hand how many times she partakes in alcohol each year (literally – I order a margarita during my birthday and anniversary dinners, and occasionally have wine coolers twice more at New Years Eve and a game night we host). I even avoid pharmaceuticals. I know others will judge me harshly on my past, so I don’t mention it. Society has groomed us to view anyone who tries a drug as an unstable, mentally ill, completely untrusthworthy person we need to stay far away from — but in reality? I think it made me a much more aware and non-judgmental person. I think it allows me to better relate to those who just need help. To understand that someone who has tried drugs isn’t automatically a worthless monster whose mere existence must be immediately shamed. The key to a less noteworthy life experience is to learn something positive from it that you can apply for years to come. So that’s what I did.
…finally at peace with my childhood and losing my mother. I hadn’t quite realized how much weight I carried around, unsure if I was mad at her, or if I could honor her memory, or if she was truly the hot mess folks had made her out to be (or instead the vulnerable young mother who loved me fiercely, like I remember — or both). Without going into too much detail, I finally decided to listen to the two short cassette tapes she’d left me before taking her life 22 years ago. And, being even more vague, I’ll simply say it filled in many holes I’ve wondered about, and I felt a physical weight lift off me when I realized who she really was and that her memory should hands-down be honored and respected.
…planning to experience more life this year. I’ve spent my entire life basing my value on my weight. I began dieting, for no real reason, in third grade after my mother passed, having seen her (a very petite woman who had never been overweight her entire life) base her value on the scale and cart herself from Jenny Craig to SlimFast in hopes that losing just a few more pounds might deem her more worthy a person. And having battled through bulimia, anorexia, and then an exercise addiction (to the point that I, the magnet-program 4.0 student who would get to school two hours early for fun, began cutting entire school days so I could secretly go jogging… the entire time), I stayed slim most of my teenage/adult life and thus felt I was pretty valuable; but I never really learned how to eat or have a healthy relationship with food. This backfired, heavily, when shortly before our wedding I developed Binge Eating Disorder. And it took me several years, and about 75 pounds, to get this diagnosis (and plenty of concerned physicians and a lot of tests) – and I am currently, and quietly, crawling out of it. It’s a truly personal journey. But in the meantime, the extra weight has left me feeling completely value-less and embarrassed, and I’ve shied away from being social, making friends, trying new things, going places. I often wonder if people who haven’t known us very long sometimes ponder what my tall, lanky, athletic husband sees in his shorter, obese wife – lingering symptoms of a mind that assumes my self worth revolves around my weight. I haven’t visited home in over six years because I don’t want people to see me this heavy, I’ve made up reasons to miss seeing friends who are in town for work, I pass up invitations to hang with local friends, I endure triple digit Texas summers in pants and t-shirts because I worry people may be “grossed out” if I wear a tank top or reasonable length shorts, and we haven’t taken all but 3-4 photos together since our wedding because I can’t handle being in them. So this year – I am loving myself, at any size, and if my weight bothers something.. that’s their problem. Life is too short for me to miss out on it until then.