July 2, 2010
It took me my entire life to learn this…
Even now it is difficult at times..
But the wonderful thing is…
Whether you realize it now or not…
That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved even when I was fuming
That I would be good even if I was clingy
That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good
whether with or without you
A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars. ~Carly Simon
I remember one morning, about two and half months ago, that I stood in front of my closet staring at the long row of twenty-something sweatshirts. Even though the the weather was starting to get warmer, calling for shorter sleeves, until that day I had refused to show my arms because of my many scars. I was ashamed of them, not wanting to be stared at or judged. I was deathly afraid of being asked questions and hated feeling self-conscious. Hardly anyone in my life knew I was a cutter, and the scars were too deep to use the “cat-scratch” excuse. So I used the easy way out and just pretended I was cold-blooded.
However, something changed that morning. For the first time, I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I had finally gotten to the point in my recovery where I was open enough to accept myself with my flaws and let people think what they may. Perhaps it might even give someone else the courage to not be ashamed of their battle wounds either. I made the decision that morning to love my scars. I closed my closet, walked over to my chest of drawers, and pulled out a t-shirt. That day, I walked around with bare arms, my struggle with depression and BPD exposed to the world. Sure, I got a couple of glances, I was a bit uncomfortable, but in the end… I was ok. No one asked any questions. I didn’t break down. I didn’t panic. The world didn’t end. I was fine. And everyone else was fine. I was just me.
Perfectly imperfect me.
Now, my scars have faded quite a bit, but they’re still there. I’m getting married tomorrow. They’re not that noticeable anymore, but I will still have to use some cover-up for pictures. But I’m fine with that. To me, they are just indicators of where I have been and the things I have overcome. They are my battle wounds…markers that I have fought… And that I have won. That I am a warrior. The most important scars are the ones you don’t see… The emotional scars. And I am happy and relieved to say that those have been healed. Through therapy, time, commitment, and love… Those have been healed. And that’s all that truly matters. It IS possible. I can testify of that.
Healing is possible.
Hope is real.
Love is attainable.
Believe in yourself…
Keep fighting your battles.
And be proud of your scars.
They mean you’re strong enough to survive it all.
May 11, 2010
For me, this song has more than one meaning. Not only is it about finding true love after a series of disappointments… It’s also about coming to a point in your life where you look back and realize that everything you have gone through has made you the person you are today…
And that you wouldn’t change who that person is for the world.
I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true
Now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.
May 7, 2010
As you may have surmised from my previous posts, Todd and I have quite an extensive history. We have known each other for about six years now. In fact, our wedding date, July 3, is the 6 year anniversary of the first day we held hands. We were at a Fourth of July celebration at a local park, and yes, there were fireworks. 🙂 I was 17, and he was 18.
Many things have transpired during those six years. We dated on and off, we were friends, he lived in Costa Rica for two years as a missionary for our church, I graduated from college, he worked, I worked, he got his own apartment, I drifted here and there and struggled with my mysterious illness… We broke up, got back together, broke up, got back together… There were good times, bad times, peaceful times, frightening times. My personality and inclinations changed from one moment to the next. He continued to grow and change as well, but at a more normal pace. He was more consistent, I fluctuated unpredictably. One moment I would be giddy with joy, the next I would be in the blackest depression. One day I would be bouncing off the walls, the next I would be wracked with panic and despair. One day I would be clinging to him, the next pushing him away with all my might. One day praising and adoring him, the next cursing and threatening him. Life with me was a rollercoaster. Our relationship (when we had one) was a soap opera, a sitcom, a Liftetime movie, a romantic comedy, and a horror film all rolled into one.
Towards the end of August 2009, in a moment of desperation and intense disassociation, I did something that made Todd vanish from my life forever… or so I thought. After I realized what I had done, the pain and remorse I felt was so horrific that my emotions shut off completely. The morning after Todd and I said goodbye, I went into a hypomanic phase. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep. My social anxiety vanished. I became the most social, outgoing, spontaneous, talkative person you ever met. I was constantly in motion, never stopping to think or barely breathe. I got into all sorts of trouble. It was as if I had no fear, no inhibition. I went wherever the wind took me, not stopping to consider the possible consequences of my actions. Most of the things I did were self-destructive – alcohol abuse, cutting, victimization, etc. I won’t go into details of all the things that happened to me during that time, but most of them were quite traumatic and resulted in three suicide attempts. During this time, Todd had no idea what was going on. In addition to our resolve not to have any kind of contact with each other, he entered Boot Camp in November 2009 where he was practically unreachable, and went directly from there into Air Force training.
He eventually heard what was happening from my mother, who had always been like a second mom to him. I knew that they were emailing back and forth, and I was ok with that. To be perfectly honest, I thought about him a lot, and missed him tremendously. As I began to recover, I came to realize how much I really did love him and miss him. I looked back at our relationship in a completely new light, made possible by my new understanding of what I was dealing with – Borderline Personality Disorder. Everything started to make sense. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t necessarily my fault either. It was this nasty mental illness that ruined everything. It wasn’t that we were essentially toxic, or wrong for each other. I had always been so confused about why it never seemed to work between us even though our love for each other felt so real and deep. It was so frustrating, and I always felt so torn between the love in my heart and these fears and insecurities that tortured me nearly every waking moment. Now, I understand them. I can see what was happening. I can also see how patient he was with me. He never gave up on me. I was always the one pushing him away. He always welcomed me back with open arms, with forgiveness, with unconditional love and acceptance.
And yet, for these last few months, I didn’t feel ready to talk to him yet. I was afraid. I was afraid of messing things up again. I was afraid of the BPD monster trying to sabotage our relationship again and push him away. I was afraid of the cycle repeating itself. I was afraid because I’m not fully recovered yet. I was afraid because I haven’t reached my “ideal” yet. I was afraid because I’m not “perfect” yet. Afraid. Fearful. Hesitant. Hiding. Waiting. Stuck…. Well, I expound about this in my April 27 post “Turning Point” so I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say, I mustered up the nerve to talk to him again. And it went full speed ahead from there!… Uh… Obviously… 😉
I have a confession. Todd has proposed to me before in our relationship. Having been together for so long, it was bound to happen at some point, right? The last time he proposed to me, about a year and half ago, I said yes… And suffered a major panic attack afterwards, one of the worst I have ever had. And why? Well, for a couple reasons. First of all, I still didn’t understand what I was going through at the time and was very ill. Second, at that point in my life (and only until very recently) I still clung very tightly to the notion that before I could truly be HAPPY, I had to be PERFECT.
Throughout my life, I have never let myself experience happiness until I had reached a certain perceived level of perfection or accomplishment. Not skinny enough? Sorry, can’t be happy. Not in control of my emotions? Sorry, can’t be happy. Don’t have my life all figured out? Sorry, you can’t be happy. These are the kinds of things I told myself. These thought patterns have been part of who I am since I was a very young child and have affected the entire course of my life. I keep myself down, I keep myself in a rut, because I don’t let good things happen until I have achieved my ideal, if ever that may happen.
Problem is, my “ideal” is unrealistic and unattainable. My idea of perfection is, well, PERFECTION. And perfection is, simply put, IMPOSSIBLE. So as long I do not allow myself to be happy until perfection is attained, I will never, ever be happy. Until I relinquish my quest for perfection, I will continue to keep myself down. Unless I somehow lower the unrealistic expectations I have of myself, I will never allow myself to realize my dreams and experience any measure of happiness in life. I will never let myself be in love, get married, have children, have a successful writing career, be creative… the list goes on…
I won’t let myself experience life to the fullest.
Perfectionism is a deadly disease.
Once I let Todd back into my life, and opened my heart and mind to being loved and accepted without reservation, without condition (which took a lot of effort and strength and self-acceptance on my part)… I felt something starting to shift in my brain. This may sound strange, but it was almost a physical feeling, like my brain was actually beginning to make new connections. Things started to click….
I AM NEVER GOING TO BE PERFECT.
I AM ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE PROBLEMS OF SOME SORT.
I AM ALWAYS GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT FAIRY TALE ENDING, ONLY A NEW BEGINNING OF A NEW ADVENTURE.
I’m always going to have flaws and imperfections. I’m never going to feel happy all of the time. There will always be struggles, whether it be with myself, in my marriage, with my family, whatever… I’m never going to be perfect…
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT.
THERE IS JUST ME.
I AM ME.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT?
I AM OK WITH THAT.
For the first time in my life, I’m ok with being imperfect.
Sure, I want to improve. Who doesn’t? But I’m ok with who I am now. For the first time, I’m not beating myself up because I have a few extra pounds around my waist, or because I have scars on my arms, or because I woke up with a few pimples on my chin. I’m not torturing myself because I wasn’t totally happy yesterday, or because I felt guilty for no reason, or because I got irritated at someone. I’m not perfect. And you know what? I don’t want to be.
I’M PERFECTLY IMPERFECT.
Besides, if I were perfect, everyone would hate me. And that would suck. 😉
This new mindset will still take some getting used to. I still catch myself slipping back into the perfectionist, extreme, black-and-white way of thinking. I will probably still struggle with it for a while, and it will take time. But I know what it feels like now to accept and love myself. And I need to hang on to that when it gets hard.
So here I am. More comfortable with myself than I ever have been, and loving it. I never thought I would get to this point. It seemed to happen over-night, but when I look back, I see all the tiny steps I took to get to this point… Finding a good therapist I connected with, opening myself up and talking, expressing myself through this blog and through writing poetry, connecting with others, getting back out in the world socially, welcoming love back into my life… And even smaller, baby steps that made those larger steps even easier… Getting out of bed in the morning, exercising, eating right, drinking water, taking showers, taking my medication, listening to music… The small, simple things DO matter. Tiny step by tiny step until one day you realize you’re where you want to be… or at least that you’ve come very, very far.
And, really, there never is an end to the journey. You will be on it forever. Always learning. Always growing. Always finding new ways to love yourself and to love other people too. Life really is a beautiful, wondrous adventure…
April 5, 2010
Alright. I need to vent. Bear with me here…
I do stupid things. I’m a big dork. Sometimes I say the wrong thing. I make mistakes all of the time. I can be really lazy. I’m nowhere near the person I want to be yet. I am a complete scatterbrain. I don’t like going places by myself. I have a phobia of talking on the phone or answering the door. I get nervous around people. I jumble my words when I’m tired. I have to force myself to eat vegetables. I wear mismatched socks. Sometimes I wear my pajamas all day. I leave the cap off my toothpaste and squeeze it from the middle. I leave cupboards and drawers open. I’m clumsy, especially in heels. I get irritated with slow drivers. I’m addicted to sugar. I suck at small talk. I feel awkward most of the time. When I have to speak in front of people, my legs shake. Singing in front of people makes me physically ill. I don’t like my voice. I’m terribly self-conscious. I wear jeans two sizes too big for me with multiple holes because I have an irrational fear that any other jeans I try on won’t fit. I hate doing my hair so I usually put it in a ponytail. Doing the dishes grosses me out. I’m always losing things. It’s hard for me to recognize the good in myself. I’m a perfectionist. Sometimes I don’t eat enough or I eat way too much. Sometimes I fake being sick to get out of socially stressful situations.I can be a flake. I hate office jobs and I will never work in one again. I take pain killers every day. I always think people are looking at me. I haven’t gone swimming in years because I’m too self-conscious. I get bored with myself a lot. I think I’m addicted to caffeine. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 19. I studied all the time in college and barely had a social life. I wear the same shoes every day. I throw things when I’m angry. I’m pretty hard on myself. I wish I was more confident. I have a hard time believing people when they compliment me. I make stupid typos. I regret a lot of things. Sometimes I eat noodles with my fingers.
Now that I’ve subjected you to Edde’s Imperfections 101, I’m going to turn things around a bit and share a list of “Affirmations for Self-Acceptance” that I came across today. Check it out:
1. I am worthy of love and respect regardless of others’ opinions or behavior.
2. My self worth is totally independent of how I compare to others.
3. My self worth is totally independent of any external factors.
4. I am worthy of love and respect regardless of the results of my efforts.
5. I am worthy and will be loved even when others are being given more attention. I am happy for others when they receive love and attention.
6. My self worth is within me and totally independent of whether I am loved exclusively by someone on or not.
7. I am worthy of love and respect even when I am not perfect in what I do and even when I make mistakes.
8. My self worth is totally independent of how much I accomplish.
9. I am worthy of love and respect even when I feel weak or needy.
10. My self worth is totally independent of whether others agree with me or satisfied with me.
11. I deserve love and respect even when I need to say “no” and not respond to what I am asked to do.
12. My self worth has nothing to do with how much I give or receive.
13. My self worth is totally independent as to whether some people trust me or open up to me or not.
14. My self worth is totally independent of how people behave towards me.
15. My self worth is totally independent of how much others work or how they work or what they believe about me.
16. My self worth is a reflection of my divine nature and not my gender, religion, social class etc.
17. My self worth is totally independent of whether others recognize it or how they feel towards me.
18. I accept and love myself as I am with my faults and weaknesses.
19. I am intelligent and capable enough to succeed in any endeavor which is important to me.
20. I deserve to be loved and respected exactly as I am.
21. I have the inner power and strength to deal with whatever life brings me.
22. I am capable of handling any possible difficulties which might occur.
23. I am beautiful exactly as I am – just as all aspects of nature.
24. I am a good person, a worthy person.
25. I am worthy of love and respect regardless of how others behave towards me.
26. I respect and love all persons without feeling any need whatsoever to live my life according to their beliefs or values. I live my life in harmony with my inner values and beliefs.
27. I am in no way responsible for others people’s reality but only for my own motives and behavior towards them.
28. No else is responsible for my reality. I am totally responsible for what I feel and experience in life.
29. My self worth is based on my inner being, my existence itself, my inner divine nature and on no other external factors.
30. My self worth is a simple function of the fact that I am a unique aspect of divine creation. My self worth cannot be increased nor decreased. I can never be more or less worthy of love and respect than another.
31. Although I am not perfect and have various faults, I deserve to be loved and respected as I am, just I as I love and respect others with their faults.
32. When I do not love my self, I am not loving an aspect of divine creation.
33. I often accept in others traits which I reject in my self. Why?
34. I am in a process of personal evolution and am attending to that process.
35. All beings deserve my love and respect, including my self.
(These are adapted from the following link: http://www.holisticharmony.com/lcp/list/affirmations.html)
So there you go.
I’m me. And I’m myself. Any questions?