2017 was filled with many challenges but so much growth.
When I look back at the year 2017, my head spins a bit. So much happened in a fairly short time. My life changed dramatically as I moved from Florida to China in 2016, settled there more in 2017, and then moved back to the USA.
However, I changed even more than my geographical location. Not understanding a word around me but having to find my own apartment and find directions taught me to ask for help even if I looked clueless. Teaching children and planning creative lessons taught me to trust myself more as a leader and artist. Working with children and feeling alone in a new culture taught me that I did want a family one day. Having a happy relationship continues to teach me that I’m lovable with all my quirks and faults.
Imagine meeting an old group of friends or classmates. One person constantly belittled and even bullied others while growing up. Now, she listens well and even apologized for past actions. Another person, on the other hand, was shy and insecure. He still struggles to speak and usually complains about himself when he does speak.
Situations like this happen to me all of the time although not always in the same day. I meet people from the past who have changed tremendously while others are nearly identical. The questions arise, “Do people change? Can someone move on from the past? Are some people able to forget who they were?”
My feet are firmer on the ground than previous times in my life. My heart does not trip over itself while scrambling to get away from a new person quite as often. My smile usually feels real instead of plastered onto my face.
Yet, there are still moments when the shaking starts. When my head begins to whirl and my breath comes in rapid puffs. When I feel like if I see another person or anyone touches me, I will break down in tears.
From theater to Disney, my life has constantly been filled with places where I need to smile. I enjoy smiling. When I see others smiling, my heart feels lighter especially if I helped bring about their joy. I don’t mind keeping a smile on my face for hours on end when I see it positively influencing others.
However, I sometimes feel more like crying than smiling. Then, I realize that people think of me as someone who always smiles. Who would I be without my smile? This haunts me.
Living in recovery (or at least attempting to) is strange. At times, the current sweeps you under and pins you under the water until you feel your lungs about to burst. Other times, the water seems like a calm pool, perhaps even enjoyably cool and refreshing.
Then there are days, weeks, months, years when you are just treading the water. You aren’t about to drown, but your feet certainly do not touch the ground to stabilize you. Each recovery-based choice takes considerable effort and seems like a waste most of the time. However, making those healthy choices is not impossible.
Memories haunt, words remind, fears remain, but I will survive.
When people warned me that he wasn’t a good friend, I just smiled sheepishly and shrugged. Sure, he was not perfect. Yet, a quirky, introverted, socially-anxious preteen girl took the friends she could get. So, I told myself repeatedly, “It’s not a big deal.”
It’s not a big deal if he tells me to shut up. I do talk too much.
It’s not a big deal if he belittles my dreams. They won’t come true anyway.
It’s not a big deal if he slaps my face. It was a gentle hit to keep me from being too weird.
Whenever I have a meal or snack, the first thing I look for is a distraction. A movie or TV show must be on, a book must be open, or a person must be talking to me.
This made me think if I ever just eat? Does anyone simply eat without distracting himself or herself? If so, does that person experience more mindfulness and healthy/normal/undisordered eating?
Look around while others are eating. How many people are on their phones? What about watching television? Strange, isn’t it? People talk about their hunger or favorite foods. Yet, these same people seem to spend little time focusing on eating itself.
I am not sure if this is necessarily a bad thing. It just is an observation that I made. Does this contribute to disordered eating? Possibly. I am not really sure.
When I was first diagnosed with depression my mother-in-law termed my illness as a “bad case of the nerves”. I always shook my head at that one, and questioned, what does depression have to do with bad nerves; an incredibly old belief or judgment perhaps?
The term “nervous breakdown” is used by the public to characterize a wide range of mental illnesses. Nervous breakdown is not a medical term and doesn’t indicate a specific mental illness. Generally, the term describes a person who is severely and persistently emotionally distraught and unable to function at his or her normal level.