Welcome to 2017 my loves. This is the year where we be who we really are. The year of goods and bads and ups and downs and everything in between. The year we accept our faults and work towards our future. The year we forgive and forget and move on. The year we look for happiness in all the right places instead of the same places. The year we travel and take adventures to feed our souls. The year we give back to those who need it. The year where we practice compassion and forget our versions of perfect.
This is our year. Your year.
Every time a new year begins, I’m fairly ready to welcome it with open arms. It’s as though a new calendar year turns me into this person filled with endless inspiration, goals, adventure and wonder. But when the high of the New Year goes away, what’s left?
What’s left is who you are. Who you want to become. And who you’ve always been.
In order to become who I always wanted to be, I have to expose all my truths. All the things that are uncomfortable to talk about and the feelings I shove and bury in the depths of my chest. While emotions can be powerful, simply ignoring them only pours kerosene onto a small flame.
So today, I am who I want to become. I’m sure many of you clicked over expecting to read only about weight loss, but wellness encompasses much more than just one area of health. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health are all relevant. Today I’m sharing details of my life that I’ve never shared before because my wellness journey has shifted and changed over the years. It’s evolved because so have I, and I want to take a deep breath to explain that.
I’m an honest type of person. I have no fear in being different or speaking truths. What’s important is that everyone has a story, so please tell yours. Open your hearts and learn to become who you always wanted to be.
I wrote an incredibly vulnerable post exactly 1 year ago. It has sat in the drafts section on my site for twelve months just lurking there. I never felt as though I could publish it until now. And while my fear is setting in, I know that releasing these words will feel like the biggest breath of fresh air, so here we go…
Post written on January 8th 2016 that was never published (until now):
“Writing these Wellness Wednesday posts aren’t always easy. Most of the time I’m here admitting to you how I struggle with food, how my emotions get the best of me and how, at times, I’ve felt completely broken. Today is one of those broken types of days.
When I had an eating disorder in college, it didn’t occur to me that it was actually happening. That I actually had an eating disorder. People would tell me all the time that I was thin, my Mom begged me not to lose anymore weight, yet somehow I just didn’t know how to stop. My heart rate slowed to 33 beats per minute and I felt like any second it might stop beating. I didn’t know what to do and there was nothing that could console my worrying or fear.
Before I finish this story, I want to back up and provide you with a little background. (I’m emotional even writing these types of things.) This is going to turn into a part one and two, but before we get to the eating disorder, I want to talk about WHY I developed it.
During my childhood, I was never thin, yet never overweight. I had a pudgy little belly and long, lean legs. I snuck candy bars into my room and hid Oreos under my pillow when no one was looking. I always had the overwhelming need to have more, more, more. Sweets just happened to be the name of the game.
My parents were obsessed with giving me their unconditional love and support, but that didn’t mean things were wonderful or perfect like you’d expect. My Dad was addicted to cocaine, alcohol and other pain medications.
Before I go on, I know this is hard to envision for some. Some have never known someone with an addiction and what it exactly means or what’s involved. First, I want to say that it affects each individual differently and that no two people are the same. Some people hide their addictions well and function normally in society; others blatantly abuse alcohol and drugs to a point that there’s no way you could pretend not to notice.
My Father was a kind, caring, wonderful man. He was tall, always smiling and had the most beautiful, striking blue eyes that you’d ever see in your existence. Behind those blue eyes was more pain than you’d ever know or guess to be true stemming from his childhood.
Years later, I’d read his journals which depicted his decades long struggle with drugs, his unconditional love for my mother and I, and his stints in rehab. The ups and downs of a man who wanted to be the best man and father for his daughter, but who just never could. The man who wanted to show up when he was needed, but could never arrive.
My parents were in love up until the moment my Dad stopped showing up when he was needed. My mom couldn’t handle trying to be in love with someone who didn’t love himself. She tried for years, even after they divorced, but it seemed he could never get his demons under control.
Dad loved life, God, cars and making me creamy butterscotch pudding and chicken ramen noodles. He also taught me how to bake cakes, lemon pies, fried chicken and the best gravy this world has ever known. We were two peas in a pod and there was no denying that our closeness was because of our similar, goofy personalities.
However, I couldn’t help but be angry with him, especially when he wasn’t around or when he didn’t show up when he was supposed to. I remember there being countless times where I would go to his house and eagerly wave goodbye to my Mom because I was so excited for time with Dad — except when I used my key to get in, I would find the house empty. And it would stay empty the entire weekend with only me and our cat. So at 9 years old, I learned care how to take care of myself (and perhaps learned to love animals for their unconditional love). Every other minute I stared out the window, hoping for Dad to show up with his big, blue eyes and wonderful warm smile; I anticipated that we would get back to our regularly programmed laughing and talk about all the adventures we’d take. Most of the time though, he never came home until late Sunday.
As a child, this is a fear like no other. To not know where your parent is, or if they are okay or safe. At the time, I was oblivious to what drugs involved and how they could rip the even the best person’s life away from their hands.
During my time alone, I remember being incredibly frightened. Not for myself, but for my Dad’s safety. Often times, I turned on the news on TV and would watch to see if maybe I’d see Dad. I took knives from the kitchen and put them by my bed just in case someone tried to rob our house in the middle of the night.
Truth is, I didn’t understand why he wasn’t coming home. Didn’t he want to hang out with me? Didn’t he want to be my Dad? Didn’t he love me? The questions did nothing but circulate in my mind, and so to calm myself, I ate. I ate until I couldn’t anymore. I ate because I didn’t know what else to do. I ate because I was just so incredibly sad and terrified. And so my habit of eating and not feeling my emotions became the norm.
When Dad finally showed up on Sunday mornings, I had already polished off nearly the entire bag of Oreos and probably more cereal than any child should eat. I felt guilty, sad, overwhelmed, anxious and upset. Dad would try to console me and tell me he was sorry, to which I would reply, “It’s okay.” What else could I say? I was 9.
Surprisingly, I never called my Mom to come pick me up. I didn’t want my time with Dad to be taken away because I cherished our memories. Our love for one another was an epic love. Most of the time, I called Grandma (Dad’s mom) to come and get me. We’d always just pretend that Dad would be home soon, even though she knew that he wouldn’t.
Dad always told me not to stuff down my emotions and to tell him how I was feeling, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t find the words to tell him how upset I was or how alone I felt. I just said that everything would be okay and asked to go to Dairy Queen. All I wanted to do was forget that he wasn’t there for me and go back to the normal happy routine of just the two of us hanging out. For me, forgetting was better than facing the truth.
This pattern continued for quite some time until eventually I became old enough to understand that it wasn’t normal. I decided to stop seeing Dad for a while, hoping that he would come around. After that, he was in and out of different treatment facilities countless times. Again, I didn’t really understand any of it. I missed him and wanted him in my life more than anything.
Dad finally started to come around when I was in high school. Mom had him come over to help resurface and paint our deck and then she had him help paint all the rooms in our new house. He did it out of the goodness of his heart. Mom and him became the best of friends and Dad seemed to be doing well. He and Mom threw me the most amazing grad party which included his famous tuna noodle salad and cucumber salad (requested by me). He was thrilled to be in our lives and I think we all thought (or at least hoped) he was clean. Our relationship blossomed and I loved talking to him on the phone about my boyfriend (at the time). Typical teenager stuff, ha. We also chatted about the problems my Jeep was giving me and he offered to fix my brakes so that I didn’t have to spend money taking it in. We went out and got lunch at the best places by the lake in the Summer and I cherished every second of it.
Then Dad suddenly passed away one late Summer evening in 2007 and I have never gotten over his death. It haunts me to this day from nightmares to anxiety. We found out that it was an overdose of cocaine, alcohol and painkillers; hearing that felt like a brick was thrown at my heart and it exploded with pain. It was absolutely devastating. I am still devastated.
For two years, I didn’t speak a word of his death to ANYONE. I refused to acknowledge it, talk about him, or how I felt. It was too much. I would cry at the thought of mentioning him or hearing his name and I knew that no one on this earth would be able to console how much it hurt to have this loving man out of my life.”
Moving forward and letting go of my hurt is the only way I know how to become who I want to be. My past is a story, and one that needed to be told, but it’s also given me the foundation to be mentally strong, to live a compassionate life and to always be myself. It no longer holds a power over me or my emotions.
For a long time, I abused food to cover up talking about or feeling emotions. Yet I’m here to make 2017 the best year of my life. This is my wellness story and how I’ve transformed my life into something positive through mental, physical and emotional health, and how you can too, no matter what your circumstance in life.
Part two of this story will continue soon. Stay tuned.
Thank you so much for reading this post. You are an incredible community and I love you.