Updated: Dec 7, 2020
My first blog post! This website and blog is the result of my journey back to me. So sharing a portion of my process was the obvious topic choice for my first blog post.
I came across this photo in a box when I was cleaning out my closet one day. One of my good friends snapped this photo of me walking into the, then abandoned, Michigan Central Train Station in Detroit with my camera in hand. Moments before this picture was taken I slide under the barbed wire fence and he, in some kind of way, climbed over the barbed wire to get into the building. This was about 2005, I was a sophomore in college, living single, fearless, confident, and unapologetic when it came to my opinions and creativity. That girl was amazing in her own right. What happened to her?
“Life has a way of altering you and if you are not checking in with yourself on a regular basis, you can lose sight of the essence of who you are."
Fast forward to 2017, with one degree, eight years of marriage, two kids, eight years of being a stay-at-home mom off and on, one relocation, and four jobs later, I found myself in the middle of an awful year. The twists, turns, and transitions that I went through left me in a daze. When the dust settled I realized that I had completely lost sight of who I was. Years of giving, pleasing, and catering to all of those around me I forgot about the dreams and aspirations that I had for myself. Let me be clear, I was very grateful for each and every person that God had given me. However, I had reached a point of exhaustion that left me completely depleted and lost.
When I stripped away the many supporting roles that I played in other people's lives, I was left with this unknown character that I just didn't know. As confident as I was in everything that I was doing, I found myself in a full-blown identity crisis and the first question I asked myself was, "How did I get here?". Quite honestly I felt the breakdown coming. Year after year, little by little I sacrificed something to "make it happen" for whoever had the need or for whatever the present need was. Slowly and steadily the things that I once dreamed to do became a faded memory. I was running a marathon at a sprinter speed and I couldn't keep up. So I crashed and this was the beginning of my journey to healing, restoration, and self-connection.
I began my journey by daring to dream again. What did that look like? I sat down and wrote a list of everything that I ever wanted to do. My dreams, aspirations, goals, and few silly things that I was just too chicken to do before, I wrote them all down. I took that list and started completing things just to feel like I was accomplishing something for me. Every time I crossed something off the list I felt more and more motivated and empowered. Just accomplishing tasks wasn't good enough for me, I had to get down to the root of issues that had been revealed in me. The real work began when I started evaluating my underlying issues and discovering their origins.
I found strength in the time that I spent with God through fasting and praying. I deeply desired to see myself the way that God saw me. My spiritual health was significant in my rediscovery process, but I had to take some practical steps as well. Sometimes to understand your current state you must look back at the journey thus far. So I began looking at my past by reading through several of my old journals. My collection of journals were very insightful since they spanned from high school through my married years. I was able to identify some personal behavioral patterns that I didn't necessarily like. I chose to seek professional counseling as my next step. Counseling was not the easiest thing to do. It took a lot of intentional work to identify, unpack, and uproot life-impacting experiences. I strongly recommend that at some point in your life everyone seeks professional counseling and actually put in the effort and work it requires. You can gain a tremendous amount of personal healing, growth, and insight. Counseling helped me to identify my triggers and how to communicate the emotions connected to those triggers, when necessary. I understood better the origins of my behavioral patterns, which in turn help me to keep myself in check.
The girl in the picture matured as she went through life's experiences, mishaps, wins, and losses. My journey to reconnect led me to revisit that girl, but more importantly, understand that I was a different person. I learned how to embrace my present and look forward to the possibilities of my future. God brought me to the breaking point necessary for me to recognize that He had shaped me into the woman I am now for His purpose. I am happy with who I am independent of all my roles. I continue to learn how to allow myself to say 'yes' to me, even if that means saying 'no' to someone or something else. I now understand that making myself a priority allows me to be at my best, which ultimately benefits everyone connected to me. I'm not perfect, I have had a few relapses of my old "people-pleasing" habits. When these times come up, I have an amazing accountability system to pull my coat tails when needed. I have established and re-established boundaries and I'm sure I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Now I am healthier, happier, more confident, and better equipped to manage my dreams and responsibilities. So cheers to another item crossed off my list and the journey still laying before me.