The difference a year makes...
Well, this is going to be a serious post. If you want to know what I’ve been up to, and why this post is here, there’s a link to the rest of the story, told through the high points. If you just like blogs, there’s no obligation to check out the link. I’ll be back to the sarcastic, strange me that you know by the next post – promise.
I’ve spent a lot of time the past months, thinking about the awesomeness of self-healing and how profoundly powerful it is (at least for me), and then trying to live those improvements and incorporate more. So far, it’s been about a year of self-improvement strides, and it’s been amazing both emotionally, mentally, and – surprisingly – physically.
Over 2016, I made a few new realizations about myself – little things, but important – the first of which is that I’m actually worth something. Not just what I do, or how I behave, but me as a human has value. That value doesn’t have to be defined or justified, but it does have to be acted on. So, being as my being has value, the question I asked myself was: where is that value best spent? Up until the end of December in 2016, that value was spent at work and with my family; but in that order. I have a rather amazing husband and a couple of great kids, and an unforgiving job. My next question was: is this priority ranking really the best use of my value? The obvious answer was ‘no’. So my job, still unforgiving, gets the forty hours a week that I get paid for, not the fifty to sixty hours a week it had been getting while I (and by proxy my family) was only paid for forty.
I also started looking at social media a lot more critically. Sure, it’s fun to share and have conversations, but to what end? My extended family is nice to catch up with, friends often post thoughtful and/or funny information and jokes, and I’m getting some exposure for my writing, but to what end? As in: what is the end of the time that I am willing to dedicate to social media in order to catch up, have a laugh, and promote my writing? That answer was – again – quite obvious: not a lot. My time is an extension of me, and so has value. Many people spend hours a day, every day, scanning Facebook, keeping up with Twitter and Instagram, and I was quickly falling into that trap. Between the hours spent at work, the hours spent on social media, and the hours of introversion-required down time, I saw and acknowledged my kids never in the twelve months before January 2017. It sucked, for me and for them. I hate that my two-year-old will see my cell phone on the table and come running to the bathroom with it because I don’t have it and she thinks that’s bad. My husband – also heavy on social media – will see my cell phone on the kitchen counter and bring it along as we’re going shopping, even though I’ve left it behind on purpose and he has his phone. So, now ‘mom’s phone’ is limited time frames only, and my kids get offered the opportunity to text with my friends sometimes. It’s just so much better for my head space, mostly because putting the cell down opened up a lot more hours in the day. For me, it works well.
The last thing that I looked at – really, really looked at – was something that I’ve taken glances at and shied away from a lot over the years. It was those two looming questions: do I need to maintain unhealthy relationships because of guilt and perceived obligation? And is it really my obligation to be the one who maintains the relationship? After a lifetime of swimming across oceans to reach for the proverbial offered olive leaf, only to be whipped with the branch because the other person in the relationship got their feet wet by a high wave on the beach, I had to say no. Relationships have two sides, and healthy relationships have a balance that provides for the positive requirements of both sides. Now in my late thirties, I have – for the first time in my life – a higher amount of healthy relationships than unhealthy relationships. This is due to the good people who’ve entered my circle over the past fifteen years and chose to stick around and prove that good people are real. (They really are! Who knew?)
I’ve been accused of being dramatic and self-absorbed many times in my life, typically when I’ve reached my breaking point and the gas lighters that were in my circle got mad that I tried to make a boundary. Lately, surrounded by good people who are telling me ‘no problem’ when I asked for healthy boundaries, those accusations all disappeared rather quickly. I’m also being supported by those afore mentioned good people to keep making and enforcing those healthy boundaries – and I’ve even started helping them with theirs. Unfortunately, the few unhealthy relationships that I have left are struggling outside the new boundaries, and their standard post-boundary comments are starting up in early 2017:
1. Are the boundaries still up? Ugh…
2. Is the ‘drama’ done?
3. Did I get over myself yet?
The resounding chorus of answers from me, my new healthy mindset, and my ongoing self-healing are, again, obvious:
1. The boundaries are up, and will remain so.
2. There was never drama. I was abused for a lot of years to make others feel better and refuse to be treated like that anymore.
3. ‘Me’ isn’t a disease, so I don’t need to ‘get over’ me. I am me.
This new state of being isn’t a phase or a thing that I’m trying out, and having myself on my list of priorities for maintaining personal health doesn’t mean that I’m self-absorbed, it means I have a healthy mind-set which allows for me as an equal contributor to the relationships that mean the most. It means that I can be a better friend because I know what I can and can’t realistically accomplish and provide, and that I can be a better cornerstone for my family because I’m present and aware when I’m interacting with the most important people in my life. It means I can teach my kids how to be present and aware so that they’re less likely to suffer through the same abuses that I did, hopefully making them smarter, better, and stronger than I am. Not many people have the benefit of self-healing experiences, and how amazing would it be to have kids who didn’t need that kind of self-treatment?
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!