Sometimes it’s just too much….

I stumbled upon a friend’s facebook post tonight. A meme she shared that set off a firestorm of emotions in me. I’m certain it wasn’t directed at me and likely that I never even crossed her mind before she hit “share”, but it hit such a raw nerve that I now can’t settle my thoughts. I’m hurt, I’m angry, and I’m sick in the gut.

Writing can sometimes help me let things go so I thought I’d give this a try…my mind is churning with so many thoughts and feelings and as it is a weeknight I do have to get some sleep for work tomorrow…

Let me see if I can post the meme here as a frame of reference….

Now…let me tell you the story of the woman in the green shirt and why assuming you know anything about anyone’s journey is so dangerous and potentially hurtful….

The woman in the green shirt was a little girl once. She lived in a loving two parent home where healthy meals were provided regularly, no junk food was allowed, and outdoor play was the norm year round. She swam and rode her bike almost endlessly during the summer months, she played kick ball and hide and seek with the other kids in the neighborhood, and visited the sledding hill with them during the winter months…she even took gymnastics, dance, and tried team sports for a little while.

Despite the well balanced meals, the lack of junk, the daily activity, this little girl was still considered “fat”. She was judged for it everyday and bullied by the kids at school. This made her hate school and not want to go, despite loving to read and learn new things. It also caused her to shrink inside herself in the hopes that if she didn’t draw any attention towards herself that people would let her be (it didn’t work).

This little girl went to her first weight watcher’s meeting at age 10….this started a decades long cycle of diets, doctor’s, nutritionists, “life-style changes”, exercise memberships, classes, programs etc. There would be some success but then it would be followed by a plateau, a lot of frustration, and eventually failure. This little girl grew into a teenager and then a young woman. The bullying never stopped and the judgements and rejections grew more painful as the years went on. With every one, the girl’s self esteem, self confidence, self worth, and courage to stand up for herself was chipped further away.

In her late 20’s this young woman, so frustrated by the struggles so far and so desperate to improve the quality of her life, made the drastic decision to have weight loss surgery. A surgical error during the initial procedure made it impossible to complete; and despite the fact that that error could have cost her her life, it did not dissuade her from trying a second time…6 months later after recovering from the first surgery she went under the knife again.

The second surgery was successful and much weight was lost, however more surgeries followed to resolve unforeseen complications. At one point this young woman worked 3 jobs to pay for the plastic surgery to help eliminate the bagging skin left behind, as insurance would not pay for it.

For a few years this young woman began to feel worthy. She began to feel good about herself and to not feel judged whenever she went out the door. Her confidence grew but she still carried so much of the pain, shame, and anxiety from the past that she continued to struggle to believe that she could be her true self and to have the things she’d always wanted.

In time the weight started to come back on. The surgical interventions stopped working, the bad habits developed over years of plateaus and failures returned, and the already fragile self-confidence started to fall away yet again.

What never changed…not in all of the years of losses and gains, of successes and failures, was the quality of this girl’s heart, the intelligence in her brain, the drive to work hard and do good, the compassion for others, her sense of humor, or the belief that people should never be judged by what’s seen on the outside.

My point is that we can never know just from looking at someone from the outside what kind of journey they have been on and what they are all about on the inside. And because of this we should never assume we know their story and jump to judge or blame them for those things we can’t possibly know or see.

Now to try to get some sleep….

It’s been awhile…..

I haven’t posted anything in several weeks. Again, this is still a new experience/experiment for me.

Spring has been busy and as we transition into Summer (my favorite season), I’m trying to soak it all in. This time of year seems so brief.

I was recently able to travel for the first time in a long time. It was wonderful. I got to see dear friends and family as well as some beautiful places. My friends’ mountain side cabin is simply magical. And seeing my family in Nashville felt like coming home. My heart was full.

Since returning home, lake season has begun. I’m blessed to have spent summers at a local lake since the beginning of my life and it continues to be my happy place. The place my soul feels most at peace.

This past weekend I faced a past heartbreak head on. I’m still deciding if it was the best choice but regardless….that bell can’t be un-rung. Nothing can change the past….and only I can decide how it impacts the future. I recognize that the person who hurt me values me and regrets the pain he caused, but I’m not sure I can set that aside. I know he wants me back in his life as the friend I always was but I’m not sure I’m capable of giving only that. Herein lies our problem historically.

I’ll leave it at that for now. As I’ve mentioned previously I’m a deep thinker and sensitive soul. I don’t know how to be any other way. (Believe me I wish I did).

Friday Vibes…

I’ve worked in crisis intervention/suicide prevention for the past 5 years. About 3 months ago I started working on a special project that has taken me from the front lines to more behind the scenes work. It’s been a great experience. Not only am I learning a lot and growing professionally, but it’s been a nice break from the heavy duty responsibility and vicarious trauma I’ve experienced over the past 5 years talking to people in their worst moments 40+ hours a week. I continue to be passionate about this work and hope I am continuing to contribute to the overall mission in a positive way.

While I’m not nearly as stressed or emotionally impacted by my daily responsibilities right now I still look forward to the end of the work week….the brain gets tired. I enter this weekend looking forward to the next couple of weeks. Soon I will be traveling to see dear old friends and family I haven’t seen in too many years.

In my day to day life I don’t often see or speak to friends, which is at times a real source of loneliness. But I am incredibly fortunate to have many people in my life who no matter the length of time that has passed or the distance that lies between us remain steadfastly in my life. I’m so blessed to still have relationships with elementary school friends, neighborhood friends, high school and college friends.

When I do get to see them it’s like no time has passed at all and the years fall away. The same can be said for far away family. I am so lucky to have grown up with two extended families who have always valued those connections. While I don’t get to see many that I love very often because of geography I know they are always out there and always on my team. I’m so excited to see some of these friends and family very soon!

That’s enough thinking for now….dinner isn’t going to cook itself. Hope you are all having a good evening…I know not everyone’s Friday is their “Friday”.

A work in progress….

I come from a family of ‘up in the morning, don’t waste a moment of the day’ kind of people. They work hard, take care of things themselves, and are particular about the quality of their work….whatever the task or project may be.

I am certainly capable of hard work and take pride in the quality of that work, but I’m a bit slower to get started. I have never been a morning person, I can easily go from bed to couch and wile away a day accomplishing little but feeling guilty about it later. I get easily overwhelmed when the to do list gets too long, and anxious about trying something new and messing it up. These tendencies often prevent me from getting started or making decisions.

I struggle to understand sometimes how I could be so different from the people I come from and worry at times that I am a disappointment to them. But then I remind myself that I have other strengths. There are things I do well or that come naturally to me that might not be so natural or comfortable for them. I need to spend less time comparing myself and more time being less judgmental of myself. I have ALWAYS been my own harshest critic and have worried too much about how others see me.

Today I feel good about sleeping in but not heading from the bed to the couch. I got up and got moving, I made decisions and crossed at least one major thing off the ever growing/changing to do list….I made progress.

I think all too often we worry about living up to expectations or doing everything the way we perceive to be “right way”. The truth is, every day is different, some days we are going to do better than others, and life is not about comparing yourself to what others around you are doing. We are all a work in progress….and probably always will be.

Adventure Sunday….

Due to the pandemic I’ve been working from home for the past year. Prior to that my daily commute was 75 miles a day. I went from putting almost 400 miles per week on my car to probably less than 20…only going out to pick up groceries and other essentials (and I don’t even do that every week!). I love my home and don’t usually mind being there but sometimes a girl gets RESTLESS and needs to GET OUT! I’ve also always had the need to explore, see new places, and visit old familiar ones. Today was one of those days and I felt compelled to do all of the above.

My grandfather (Papa) was the same way. Some days he’d just get in the car and see where it took him. I often do the same thing and when I do I feel like he’s with me. He also always told us to never return home the same way you went…so I almost never do.

Today I visited two of our “local” state parks; both of which I’ve visited many times in the past and have good memories attached to. I’m always struck by the beauty of the area around us here in WNY. We are very fortunate to have so many awe inspiring spots so nearby. Today I found a new road in one of them that I had never before known was there and of course I took it….I was grateful that I drive a Jeep because in some spots calling it a “road” was a stretch! But I got to see parts of this park that I’m sure many have never seen.

The woods were greening up, the water was rushing far below, the birds were singing, and the air was so fresh. It was all so good for my soul. Nearly 130 miles round trip and I am back home, enjoying a glass of wine and looking at the pictures I snapped today. I’m happy that I was able to get out of the house for a bit and take in some of the area’s beauty. I need to do this more often! We should take any opportunities we can to have adventures in this life!

Rainy week…

Last week was unseasonably warm and delightfully sunny….this week has been stark in contrast…rainy, cloudy, and cold. I know it all contributes to the nurturing of spring but it’s hard to contend with nonetheless. I’m prone to weather related migraines and seasonal mood effects so it’s made this week rough…that, and so far having worked 47 hours in 4 days.

My Mom said goodbye to a dear friend and incredible woman this week. Someone who touched more lives than she probably ever knew…such a bright light and strong spirit. We’ve both reflected on how leaving that kind of impact is the greatest legacy. and that those connections are the best gift life can offer. Oh and also that Cancer and other serious/terminal illnesses suck!!

It reminded me that the length of any one of our lives is not guaranteed and that we should not be afraid to live them fully. It helped give me the courage to share with those who know me about this blog experiment. Maybe it will still go nowhere or maybe it will. The truth is that one will never know if they never try.

Sprinting into Spring….

Okay, so I’ve never really been a sprinter…AT ALL. In fact no one has ever accused me of being fast at anything lol. But I am excited that with the recent flip of the calendar that Spring does seem to be upon us. The greening of the grass, the budding of the trees, the blooming of the flowers makes this girl’s heart happy. Living in the mid Atlantic region of this country you become very grateful to see the gloomy, wet days of winter in the rear view. Spring and Summer are my favorite seasons.

As we enter this Spring it is so strange to think of where we were a year ago. In a lot of ways so much has changed since then and in other ways so much has not. We were shutting down at this time last year and now things are starting to open back up. I can only hope that we are headed to our new normal. One that certainly looks different than the old but better than that of this past year.

My heart hurts for those who were ill or who have lost those to illness. It doesn’t matter what kind of illness because our ability to be there for one another during those difficult and dark times was altered greatly regardless of the battle being fought. For those still struggling with that grief I see you and I’m sorry for your pain.

I’m always grateful for the connections I have but this pandemic has made me more appreciative than ever. Continue to reach out to that friend you haven’t talked to and make plans to visit that family member you haven’t seen. Love is the best things we have in this life.

Gratitude….

I received my 2nd vaccine this week. So grateful to have been able to receive it through my employer….I know so many who are still anxiously awaiting their turn. I can only hope that with the numbers of those vaccinated increasing that we will be able to return to some sense of normalcy.

I haven’t gotten a a lot of feedback on my posts so far….okay in all honesty I’ve gotten none lol. But I’m genuinely curious and interested….if anyone out there is reading this. How are you holding up? We continue to be in crazy, uncertain times. It’s important to not feel alone. If you want, share with me your stories or feelings about the ongoing pandemic. I’m a good listener…

Blogging so far….

I’m such a novice at this. I have no idea if I’m doing this right or if anyone will ever actually see it lol. It appears that my first post has been viewed a total of 4 times with 0 comments or likes. I’m not at all sure what that means?!!? Maybe this is really what I need….a place to express my thoughts that no one ever reads lol.

I did share with a friend today that I got brave enough to start the blog I’ve been considering forever. Should I let her in?? Tell her how to find it??

Despite having many people in my life that I love and who love me back I tend to be a bit of a loner. I’m fiercely independent and don’t want to have to rely on anyone for anything. I much prefer to be needed than to need. Knowing that about myself has not made this last year any easier however. Choosing to be alone and being forced to be alone due to a global pandemic are two very different things and evoke a million different thoughts and emotions. I’ve been working from home since April, I do heavy duty emotionally draining work (which also happens to be incredibly fulfilling which is why I continue to do it), and I have been doing it mostly in my own little bubble. I look forward to the days when I can see my friends and hug my family again….when we all can!

I guess that’s enough for now….again, I’m not sure I’m doing any of this right or if it’s even worthwhile, but as previously said….nothing ventured, nothing gained. Without risk there is no reward.

Nothing Ventured…nothing gained….right???

I’ve always been a sensitive soul prone to deep thoughts and feelings. Often the thoughts overwhelm and I need to get them out. I’ve gotten into the habit of posting them on social media which is often to the concern and consternation of those closest to me. I’m someone who can see all sides of a situation, no matter how difficult. That ability to empathize has served me well in my professional life as well as with friends/family but I’m not sure how great it’s been for me personally. I’m a single woman at 45. A woman who has always dreamed of children but never had any….who has always imagined love and partnership but has been let down more than once. I’m blessed with an incredibly close family and many life long friends but spend my day to day life mostly alone. I’ve always been told that I’m a gifted writer and that I should do something with my words….after a long time of doing nothing with my thoughts and words I’ve decided to give this a try. Maybe it will go nowhere, maybe I have no idea what I’m doing (that feels like a strong possibility), or maybe I’ll reach other people like me who need to know they aren’t alone. All I know is I have to give it a try. If I reach just one person then I will feel like it was a worthwhile endeavor.