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.

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Alena Hughes

Man, you should see the lengths my husband goes to in order to make sure I never get hungry. That's all you need to know about me.

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