grace not perfection

Oh, 2017.

It’s the time of year for posts and blogs that reflect on the last three hundred and sixty-five days.  I remember January 1, 2017.  I’d just come off Christmas with both my parents, my Mom finished radiation treatments, and I was suuuuper motivated.  Suuuuuper selfie taking, look at my progress pics in my sports bra motivated.  Suuuuuper.

It was going to be my year.  I was going to get in the best shape of my life.  I had goals to end negative self-talk, to journal more, to read my Bible more, to spend less time on devices and social media.  I was doing the thing.  All of the things.

I could make a list of the things that happened that derailed me, that put me on a different path, the things I chose to prioritize or that I was forced to prioritize.  I could make that list, but honestly, everyone has that list.  The thing is, I don’t deal well with change, with tragedy, with things going off course, so when they do, my motivation and drive go with them.  I’m not just talking about exercise and eating right, but I’m talking about living a decent life.

To put it harshly, I beg for excuses to not finish every single thing I start.  I have very little work ethic.   I figure the only way to overcome this issue is to own it, acknowledge it, and make the effort to move forward and change.  One phrase I vow to throw away in 2018 is “It’s just how I am” – because there is no bigger cop out or excuse.  Unless we’re saying absolutely hilarious is “just how I am” because that’s true and not changing.

Sometime in July I stopped trying to eat healthy and averaged a handful of workouts per month.  I kept trying to get back on the wagon and I would fall right back off and beat myself to death on the way to the ground.  At the beginning of August, we found out Mom’s cancer spread to her liver and kidneys.  All I could think about was enjoying life with her, but with that news came crippling depression.

Depression brought on eating to cope.

Eating to cope brought on weight gain.

Weight gain brought on negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk brought on not being good enough.

Not being good enough brought on giving up.

Giving up brought on depression……….. (do you see the cycle?)

All the while, I’m putting on the brave face and trying to be everything for and to everyone while my Mom was dying.  I’m going to work, I’m going to appointments, I’m trying my best.  After she passed, the cycle continued but then included sleeping for several hours when I got home from work, withdrawing from others (people and activities that I love dearly), and hating myself.  I still do.  I know that the word ‘hate’ is strong, but I’ve never truly liked what I see in the mirror and I hang an insurmountable amount of my self-worth on the number on the scale and the number on the tag in my pants.  I also, just generally speaking, believe I am not enough.  Enough what?  Enough anything.

Exercise and eating right don’t change that.  My attitude changes that.  I don’t hold anyone else to the standards in which I hold myself and I would not ever, under any circumstance, speak to or about another human being the way I speak to myself regarding… well… me.

Small goals, trying harder, not beating myself up, being kinder to myself, positive self-talk, completing a task, these are my promises to me in 2018. 25 pounds heavier than 2014, I’ve figured out that I’m not going to find my self-worth in any number, but my working on what’s inside of me.  I thought I had nipped this demon.  I thought this was over — turns out, I’m not happy at 138 or 164.  That number literally does not matter.

I’m still struggling with depression.  I still miss my Mom every single day.  But, I can’t keep in this direction.  I think the most important part for me is extending myself grace and kindness when I fall off, because I will fall off at times, and not let it derail everything I’m working towards inwardly.  2018 will not be perfect, I wont even say that I hope it’s better than 2017, because I cannot control 2018.

The only thing I can control is me.

So, I’m going to start working on exactly that.

To be absolutely fair to 2017, it was, far and away, the worst year of my 31 years of life.  However, I’m not going to challenge life by saying, “It can’t be worse” because I would hate for 2018 to redeem this dreadful, no good, awful, rude turd of a year.  I can’t change what’s happened and hating myself doesn’t bring my Mom back to me.  Eating until I’m sick doesn’t bring her back, neither does telling myself how ugly and disgusting I am.  In fact, she would beg me to see myself how she saw me.

I don’t know if I will ever get that point, but that’s what 2018 is going to be about for me.  Kindness to myself and to others and finding a healthy relationship with myself, with food, with others.  So, I guess we’ll get to it.

Advertisements

until this winter is over

Last night, I saw you in a dream.

We were in the tiny house on 201, the white cinder block 900 square foot house that I spent the first 13 years of my life.  I was sitting in front of the old white dryer in the bathroom, the one where the clothes basket sat on top and Andi’s makeup lined the left side.  We never had a lot of room, especially not for 4 people.  You were talking, and I could hear you, but you never acknowledged me that I can remember.  You stood in front of the sink, at an angle, facing your tiny mirror that you always used to put on your makeup.  The mirror that had a cling on of Winnie The Pooh because you never cared if I put my interests everywhere. Bekah called Pooh “Pee-ah” and we loved it so much.  We rolled.  Anyway, I was pulling your clothes out of that old dryer, but I knew you were gone.  It was so strange.  I could see you, and I was aware of your presence, but I knew you were gone.  I pulled the shirts out one by one and cried out, ‘Oh, Mommy’ looking at your sweet little clothes.  There were only two shirts, a soft blue crew neck sweatshirt that looked far too old fashioned for you, but it said “Mom” on it.  The other was a far too small Valentine’s Day shirt that also didn’t look like anything you would ever wear.  I cried as I folded the shirts and I kept saying through tears “Mommy. Oh, Mommy…” and even though you were there, you didn’t say anything to me and I didn’t say anything to you.  I woke up in a struggle, covered in sweat, and immediately started crying.

It’s not easy missing you.  I’ve worn everyone out with the stories and with simply exclaiming how much I miss you, and it honestly doesn’t even scratch the surface of the cavernous valley that is my heart without you.  In my mind, I replay conversations and moments as much as I can, as much as humanly possible, and still function day to day.  I see you standing in your every day clothes in the homeplace in front of the kitchen sink, washing out two glasses because Lord, don’t let those dishes sit.  If I close my eyes, your movements are fluid and I can place myself with you, anywhere we have been or could be.  I know what you would say, I know how you would laugh, I know what your hug would feel like.  Better than all of that, I know how your hair would feel against my cheek and exactly how it would smell.  Details like your hair or what your hands looked like are the things I took for granted in this life.  I can remember them now, but I fear the day that they slip away from me or will no longer be as fresh. For now, I enjoy them.  I cry with them.  I find comfort in them.

I remember rolling my eyes at so many things you would say.  One time, we were driving and you noticed an opening in the clouds shaped like a heart.  You always noticed clouds and I never notice clouds.  You said, “Look, God gave us a heart to tell us He loves us.” and I thought, “Yeah, okay Mom…” and I think I probably just giggled or something.  In your absence, things like that stick with me.  Now, I call those instances “Prime Mom” or “Prime Brenda K” because they’re so precious.  I know you weren’t perfect, but your heart was as close to flawless as anyone I believe I will ever know.  The kindness that permeated from you should be imitated and it humbles me now.  I can think of the times you would point at a bird, or talk about the leaves, or how the rays of sun came into the house according to season – all things I never noticed or cared about – and I now see how you found beauty and love in everything, in every instance, and in every creature.  I miss that.  I wish I was more like that.

You were the very best part of my genetics, my only hope at beating the selfish, arrogant, self-centered turd that I can be.  You knew I could be good, and you knew just how good.  You always remembered the soft hearted little girl whose feelings hurt too easily, the one who cried at the end of the book when the kitty cat finally made it home after a long winter, and the one who boo hoo’d all the way home with you every time we left Papaw’s after he died.  I never considered what it would be like to make the drive home from that empty house again.  Honestly, I could write a book of things I never considered.

I wasn’t ready to write this, but I suppose no one ever is.  I thought we had more time.  I stared at you on your 64th birthday and I thought you’d have one more.  I knew there wouldn’t be many, but I thought we had at least one.  We didn’t even make a big deal out of it and I didn’t get one picture of you on that day.  Had I known it was the last birthday I’d ever celebrate with you, well, I guess I would’ve worried you to death.  I’m sure that’s why we never get to know, isn’t it?  Because, I worried you to death anyway.  I know there were things you didn’t say in fear of worrying us.  I probably wore you out, didn’t I?  I just wanted to make sure you were okay.  But, I know you’re okay now.  ‘Okay’ being an understatement, I am sure.

The depression is overwhelming and I know you would hate that.  You knew better than most people how I struggle.  I do the best I can, but there are so many naps.  I’m so exhausted from acting like I am okay, but I think I do an okay job hiding my grief.  I still don’t know how I’m supposed to do any of this.  Working 40 hours a week is the best I can offer, anything beyond that usually gets slept through.  I’m trying, but it’s still unclear to me how I’m supposed to navigate this world without you, so I look for you.  I’ll keep looking, too.  I’ll keep looking until I see you again.