2017 shook me to my core, broke me and opened my heart in ways that I was not ready to experience, let alone imagine. I felt like I was repeatedly hit with a ton of bricks throughout the year and never enough time to get up and recover from the previous blow.
The past year, and my heart, seemed overwhelmed by loss:
I was laid off from a full time, well-paying and benefitted job that I loved.
- Loss of my second dad (Father-in-law) hit hard, unexpected and filled me with emotions that I still cannot fully express. I still struggle with how to grieve, when to grieve, and how to move forward. Over eighteen years of memories remain in my heart, including those now cherished most, are of caring for him in his final weeks, days, hours - it will always be bittersweet.
- Missing out on opportunities that I swore were for me, so I set my heart on them only to receive rejection after rejection.
- Loss of my Grandmother-in-law, a woman that always remembered me, encouraged me and prayed for me & my family, even when her mind started to fade and couldn't remember her own children's names.
- Loss of my naivety of the world we have always lived in regarding race and religion. This loss was not bad in the sense of the aforementioned situations, because a veil was lifted from my eyes and mind, but it was like ripping off flesh from a wound I didn’t even know I had. This loss was a good one, but painful nonetheless.
My eyes, heart and mind were wide open - to everything and to everyone’s pain but my own. I always dove in to be a fixer, to see other people happy, to help heal their hurts. At first, I saw the various losses for myself and pushed it aside so I could deal with the situations at hand because things had to be done. I mean, hello - I am “The Magic Maker.” I set myself up daily with high expectations and in the last year seemingly felt like I failed most of the time.
I felt guilt day in and day out because I never felt like what I did was enough. I never felt like I was enough as a mom, caregiver, daughter. I never felt like I was enough for my husband. Granted, these are all things that I told myself, none of them are true. But I convinced myself that this was the case. I had to be more. I had to be better. I was so focused on pleasing other people that I didn’t realize that they weren’t asking me to do any of that.
The stress I experienced began to manifest in my body physically and overwhelmed my already riddled mind with more anxiety and depression.
I stopped writing. I stopped running. I stopped caring on the inside and no matter how hard I tried to fake it, I just couldn't make it.
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, depression is not a choice. I didn’t wake up and choose to go completely dark. I do try to find the magic in everything, but this time and at that point the reality of my life seemed to only have been touched by darkness.
I felt there was no other way. I began to close my heart. Even though I visited Disneyland as often as I did and even met Kerry Washington (OMG), I still couldn’t shake feeling so broken.
Then, I began reading and listening. I figured if I couldn't write, I could at least maybe listen, keep learning and somehow figure out how to heal. There are few people in my life that I have felt truly listened and held conversation with me and my fast moving mind and my late Dad was one of them. When I was unable to chat with my blood Daddy, he was there for me as if I were one of his own kids. He knew me since I was 17, which is half of my life. Even in his final hours he was chatting it up with his kids, throwing out gold nuggets of wisdom. What he told my youngest sis is one that will stay with me forever. He always focused on love, the importance of giving it and receiving it. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. It’s all about love. It’s all we need. It is the core of our being and existence.
Essentially, and for lack of butchering his words, I will paraphrase, but he told her teach her kids to love themselves. To be comfortable in their own skin, love wholeheartedly and fully.
Once Dad passed away I found myself having conversations with him and they have been little chats that I treasure and have taken to heart. Month two of his passing, I woke up with a strange sense of peace (it has come and gone, but this day it was clearly a moment I remember and feel). It was the first time I woke up and forgot about the previous night terrors and overwhelming sadness that my heart had been feeling.
I remembered and then before I could become sad again, my heart heard, “Remember what I told Joy? That’s for you, too sweetie... You must love YOU.”
Oh. I see...slowly but surely...*lightbulb*
I need to love myself.
That’s how our kids will learn to love themselves. I can’t teach something I don’t know or experience. It was then that I realized I was in desperate need of some self love and care. Just like Dad, that's all he said. He didn't give me a long speech or make me feel like I was doing anything terrible. It was a gentle, loving reminder to take care of my own heart. I was clearly not doing that.
I was broken inside, trying to help other people pick up the pieces of their lives. Yet, my oxygen mask wasn’t fully on. I knew that at some point I had to change how I was living. I am so thankful that even through his heartbreak and grief, my husband saw my needs and suggested that maybe it was time that I seek counsel. So, I began therapy. I started journaling, saving my thoughts to sort out offline. I started running again and even occasionally went to the gym. Those things helped, but it really was conversation, sorting out my thoughts, allowing myself to feel and be okay to not be okay without guilt or stigma for seeking help.
With the prompting of a sweet friend , I chose a word that I want to use to set precedence for this new year. Initially, I chose “manifestation.” I was desperately seeking resolve, closure, new things, and seeing dreams and goals come to fruition. Almost as quickly as I envisioned “Manifestation,” the word “healing” came to mind and I knew that is what my goal would be for this year. The word kind of picked me. From there, my friend reminded me that I needed to cultivate the soil so that things could grow and I would see that manifestation in the end. I am continuously learning to enjoy this journey, to accept both the light and dark magic that surrounds me (more on that in an upcoming post), embrace and feel the emotions that surface but let them pass through.
I’m learning to be more open with myself and with that kind of comes a “no more bullsh*t” type of feeling that has seemed to surface. My time is no longer to be wasted worrying about what others think or how I should perform or live my life. It’s wasted time and energy, and no one has time for that. I’m learning to say “no,” and move on without guilt. It’s not always easy, but my heart and soul feel so much better to just move forward.
As I heal, as I write more and seek genuine interactions with others during my time here on earth, I am reminded that I am a spiritual being simply experiencing humanity. All of this will fade away. My soul, my existence will live on just as my Dad’s before me. Every moment is one that I am learning to feel – and let go. Life here is truly about the journey. I’m hugging and loving my hubby and babies tighter. I’m appreciating the moments that I will never get back. I’m learning to love myself and be okay to let go of perfection. I’m learning how to let go of needing to control, and letting those that love me do just that - love me hard. Sometimes we forget to allow others in, to let them love us and see us at our most vulnerable point. As a highly sensitive and emotional person, I never thought that I was repressing anything... until it was almost too late.
As a side-note, don’t mistake my revelation as me being a doormat for other people’s negativity because I’m here for the love. I still won’t take bullsh*t. I can and will love from afar if I must. I prefer closeness and hugs, but remember, this is my year of healing, I won’t knowingly allow myself to be subjected to that nonsense.
Friends, here's to a legit 2018, filled with all kinds of magic, love, continuous learning, good health, and most of all a road to the healing of my soul, allowing newness to manifest in ways that I couldn't have imagined for myself.