For six years, I lived a life that I hid from almost every single person I know. One that was very unhealthy for me, and my children. I was ashamed. Broken. Silenced. Afraid. Defeated. And numb. I made excuses for and forgave inexcusable behaviors, and put on a mask of happiness for the world to see. I was so afraid that if people knew the truth, they'd pass judgement, and I've long struggled with wanting to be accepted.
While I won't go into the details, because it's not just my story to tell, I want to say this to anyone out there who feels any of those things. Whether it's because of addiction, abuse, mental issues, perfectionism, or a disease....YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
If you ever find yourself in a situation that makes you feel afraid, you can continue to live in fear, or you can be brave and make a change.
It doesn't matter if you feel like you are in too deep to get out. Trust me, I know, because I've lived through it. You always have the ability to change, no matter how scary it is. Once you decide to remove whatever it is that is causing you pain, you might have days that you wake up and feel paralyzed by the fear that life as you know it is over. It might feel like an awful decision, but it's not. It's the best decision.
Because you've lived a lie for so long, you might struggle to get to a place of no longer hiding, of truly being yourself. And partly, it's because you probably don't even really know who you are anymore. Finding yourself is painful and freeing all at the same time. You will have days that you are both happy and sad, and you'll wonder how that's possibly, but understand this...you can grieve the loss of the life you knew, even though it was unhealthy for you, and celebrate the new life you have all at the same time. It'll more than likely be one of the first true 'feels' you experience.
When you start to allow yourself to truly feel and process what you went through, you'll be able to talk about your truth. It might only be to a therapist, your minister, or a close friend, but you will finally be free from your prison of secrets. Learning to be real and authentic after hiding for so long is hard and painful. So many good things are.
You're going to find out who really loves you during this time...and it will be eye opening. Purge. And purge some more. You will start to realize that everything and everyone that's left, is what and who is important to you. That's what change does. It forces you to decide and hold on to the things that matter to you the most.
It's so very hard to go from a place of being numb, because you open your heart to feel things again. I can't promise that it won't hurt like hell, or that it won't be uncomfortable and completely foreign to you. But it's something you absolutely have to go through to start the healing process. If you are brave enough to feel, you will begin to have hope. Hope leads to taking a step in the right direction. The direction towards a future filled with things you thought were impossible.
You will find the things in life that really bring you joy. But even those things can be scary as you start to navigate this new life. You might find yourself waiting for the bottom to drop out. Stop it! You deserve to be happy, and healthy, and safe. You are worth it, and you deserve it!
Over the last year and a half, I've learned so much about myself.
I've learned that motherhood, and being a wife, and just life in general are really, really hard sometimes. But they are also so amazing and beautiful.
I learned that it is okay to be honest, and to be unapologetically myself. I've learned that I am kind, and sensitive, and fiercely loyal to the people I love. I've learned that I sometimes I make big mistakes, and I've learned to genuinely apologize and forgive myself. I've learned that I am truly loved. I've learned that I'm a good listener, a quick forgiver, and that sensitivity chip that I tried hiding for so long is actually a blessing because it allows me to empathize with other people. I've learned that I love home improvement projects, but mid-way through I get distracted and my husband ends up finishing them. I truly don't know what I'd do without him. I've learned that people (mostly my husband and kids) think I'm funny, and hearing my children's giggles bring an indescribable amount of joy.
In my quest to become a better mother, I've learned what it means to be a good friend, a good sister, and a good wife.
I've realized that as I put the real me out there...inch by inch...life is and will continue to bless me with amazing relationships with genuine people I stand in awe of. I see their joys, triumphs, failures, pain, and sorrow. And I see how beautifully and courageous they handle it all.
My relationship with the Lord has deepened, and I've finally realized that He loves me no matter what.
I've learned to be thankful for the blessings in my life because in so many situation, they are not the norm...they are the exception.
I've learned that the most important thing in life is to continue to make the next best choice for me and my family, and that that looks different for everyone.
I've learned that indifference is just that....indifference. And you can be indifferent with people you love, and still show compassion.
I've learned that internalizing pain only causes more pain, and loneliness. And that the people who love you will stand beside you no matter what stage of life you are in or what challenges you may be facing.
I've learned that writing is a part of the healing process for me. Whether it's here, or in my journal. And I've learned that healing starts fresh for me every single morning.
I've learned that being in the presence of my husband, music, yoga, snuggling my babies, time with my friends and family, meditating, and sunshine are good for my soul.
You deserve to know and love all of these things about yourself, too.
So get out of bed. Take a shower. Fix your hair. Put on some makeup. Your favorite outfit. Even if you aren't going anywhere. It'll still make you feel better.
Read to your kids. Breathe in their precious smell.
Start journaling. Or blogging.
And talk to God. Ask for his help and guidance, and remember to thank Him.
And realize that you don't need to feel ashamed of your story, or your reasons for hiding. You are loved anyways.