So every year I do two things for my birthday:
- I write an entry about who I am in a personal journal and look back at the past posts to see how much I’ve changed.
- I write a post, usually on instagram, ruminating on how far I’ve come in a year. From the good to the bad to the things I love to the things I need to change.
Seeing as my birthday was back in February this post is overdue. However I don’t like to do anything half-assed. I’m a perfectionist to the very end. I’ve gone through so much this year that it’s been hard for me to sit and do anything lately. I’ve also been overwhelmed and busy, but I’ve found time to keep up on social media and network. So now it’s time to get this blog in shape.
Without further ado here are my thoughts about being twenty-six and my hopes for twenty-seven.
Twenty-six ( aka 2016 to February 2017 ) seemed like it’d be the year that broke me. It was a year of growth and lessons. They were hard earned, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’ve always been the person who believes that things happen for a reason, no matter how much I resent it, and everything that happened at twenty-six, good or bad, was a lesson I needed to learn.*
It’s hard to write this, but I spent most of the spring and summer wondering if I’d make it to twenty-seven. Frankly I was suicidal and actively planning it at some points. Ironies of ironies the very things that were keeping me going were killing me as well. I was looking for ways out.I struggled so hard with my anxiety and PTSD. I couldn’t sleep with anyone other than my cat in my bed. Leaving the house was a nightmare.
I, true to form, was putting everyone before me and wouldn’t say no. I was starting to resent some of those people. Resenting the people I love is the last thing I ever want. I hate conflict and I will ALWAYS hate saying no, but I learned the hard way that, if I was going to keep living I HAD to. Some of the people I was saying no to weren’t all that happy about it, but slowly I stopped feeling like a prisoner or a victim.
In acknowledging all of this I had to go to my doctors and be put on medications I didn’t want to be on. I had to be transparent with myself and, with that, I had to start making changes for me. I had to learn to be a little selfish, a concept I’ve been taught from birth was inherently bad. I had to overcome my own issue with that concept. Part of being selfish was learning that I needed time to myself and that I needed to protect that time. This is all something I’m coming to terms with and still working on. However, I recognize that I’m far from the exhausted doormat I used to be.
I was very lucky that I had people who gave me a safe place to recover. It helped improve a friendship I thought I’d never have. It showed me who was willing to make an effort and who wasn’t. I’ve always been the person to make the effort in much of my relationships. My friends and family have jobs. I’d always rationalized that, because I didn’t (not even realizing that my battle with invisible illness was a job within itself), I needed to make the extra effort and go the extra mile, no matter how much it wore me down. However, I found myself in a unique position for a good chunk of this year wherein I couldn’t make the kind of effort I’d previously made. Some relationships slowly died. It hurt, but I wasn’t surprised. However a lot of my friends rallied, reaching out to me and going the extra mile to keep our relationships healthy and going. They made sure I was ok. As much as I lost? I feel like I gained even more.
I also learned something interesting. My health suffered a lot this past year. I had a period from June 15, 2016 to December 25, 2016. I was constantly in the gyno’s office. I had to take iron supplements for the blood I was losing. The treatments they were trying were giving me panic attacks and threatening any semblance of emotional stability I had. Then my doctor told me I may have cancer and that the only way to confirm it, as well as figuring out why I was having this neverending period, was to have a biopsy and exploratory surgery. Turns our, I didn’t have cancer, but I did have to have some spots of endometriosis cauterized. However, they still don’t know why it happened. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again.
However I realized in this time that I had a will to live. Faced with the possibility of cancer and my own mortality I realized that a lot of the things I said I’d do if I was ever diagnosed with cancer? They weren’t what I wanted anymore. Most of the women on my mom’s side of the family have died from cancer. Watching them wither away and die I swore a long time ago that I’d never go through chemo. I decided that I wanted to, should I ever be in that situation, die with dignity and spend time with my loved ones while I could. While this didn’t COMPLETELY change, I realized that should I have a fighting chance? I wanted to fight. I realized I had a lot of living to do.
While I was dealing with all this, I was also constantly sick. I’ve always dealt with a weak immune system, but no one could ever explain it. I’ve spent a lot of my life in and out of hospitals and doctors office because I would get severely ill. My symptoms were real but the tests for diseases that caused a compromised immune system and immunodeficiencies never came back with answers. Funnily enough the answer came from my psychiatrist this past year. He explained that the intense anxiety caused by my anxiety disorder and PTSD was wearing my body’s natural defenses because my body was constantly working on overdrive.
My friends were so instrumental this year. My circle thinned out considerably after I started saying no and setting boundaries, as well as the situation above. The people I was left with? I’m so lucky. I’m actually officiating one of their weddings this October. People always say that you learn who your true friends are when you struggle. My view on friendship changed, as did my view on family. I still love without limits, but I started to love myself too, which forced me to confront and end a lot of toxic friendships. I was careful to make sure that the people I called family earned it, that friendships were earned as well, and that sometimes people are just acquaintances…and that’s okay. I hate meaningless chit chat and meaningless friendships. I want depth and meaning. However I felt like I was cruel and somehow messed up because I felt like I was devaluing people. Somewhere in the turmoil of the year I learned that it’s okay to not be friends with everyone. I learned how I needed to let people go and how to keep myself from putting myself back into those positions. Am I still working on it? Yes. Am I particularly good at it? No. I’m still learning how to tell someone they’ve hurt me without assuming I’m not important enough for them to care. And I’m definitely still battling my extensive trust issues, but through trial and error, as well as therapy and fantastic friends? I’m getting there.
This was also the year I got very very serious about my physical health. After a health professional encouraged a very dangerous diet when I was twenty-five, it set of a chain of events that ended up with me developing an unhealthy relationship with food and getting diagnosed with anorexia. I still struggle with it and fight tooth and nail. Funnily enough I didn’t lose weight by starving myself. I actually gained somewhere in the area of twenty lbs when I was restricting. In order to prevent a relapse the initial lifestyle change I started in 2015 had to be modified to accommodate this new monster in my mind. So I revamped my life change: I had already changed my entire diet and was serious about exercise, but I stopped counting calories, only weighed myself when I was at the doctors, exercised when I wanted to because I loved it (surprisingly), and learned moderation. When I went to see my doctor in December 2016, she cried. She told me that my highest weight had been 359 since she’d seen me and that I was finally below 300. Guys, I may have mentioned this in another post, but I haven’t been under 300 lbs since I was in my early early twenties. We’re talking twenty-two at the latest. We both cried because it’d been such a fight to get there. And I’m still doing it.
This was also the year Trump went into office. That’s, again, a much longer post for another time, but I got more involved with politics at twenty-six than I ever had before. His win hurt so many people. I actively fought for my rights and the rights of others, something I’m still doing. I learned to check my privilege and that, if I wanted things to change I had to do it myself. I stopped sticking my head in the sand because it was easier.
There was also a lot of good in the year I was twenty-six. The shortlist includes:
- I went to DragonCon with my new friend Sam and had such an amazing and unforgettable experience. I met Aly Michalka-Ringer and Summer Glau. Meeting Summer Glau was such a beautiful, healing, and personal thing. Very few people know the whole story, because I realized it meant so much to me that I wanted to keep it to myself.
- My family went on our first real vacation in almost twelve years and it was beyond enjoyable. Having a good time with my dad is complicated but that trip in 2016 was the first peaceful vacation my family had ever had.
- I learned to like green leafy vegetables and spicy food. My sister worked with me and now I couldn’t imagine not loving either now. It helped my diet so much.
- I got to see several concerts on my bucket list.
- One of the most important people in my life, who had been absent for over a year because of a falling out and some things in her life, came back and, not only are we closer than ever, our relationship is so much healthier.
- I started to dress and develop my own aesthetic and didn’t let anyone deter me from it.
- I found inspiration for my writing. I’m writing songs, books, and poetry again.
- I started this blog so that I could do something I loved and took myself out of a toxic situation with a previous blog.
- I found my love for reading again.
- I realized that people actually liked me (more on that below).
And so much more. I couldn’t even begin to explain everything, good and bad. Trying to fit it in a blog post is hard enough ;).
The biggest thing I learned was this: No one should ever define your worth but you. I spent so long thinking that, due to trauma I experienced growing up, I wasn’t a good or worthy person. I let the things people had said about me eat at everything in me. I craved and needed approval to function. I was convinced I was too much, disgusting, crazy, worthless, and so much more that wasn’t…true, not in the way I think. I learned that I’m good at networking and putting people at ease. I had been suppressing and snuffing out my light by, whether I realized it or not, accepting other people’s hatred and unkindness as my truth. One of the best pieces of advice I got this year was to treat myself the way I treat the people I love. I would never be okay if my friends said the kind of things I’d been saying to myself to themselves. It’s still anxiety inducing to be in a public setting, sometimes the things they said feel like a battering ram in my mind, but I’m working on it.
I’m still learning so much and, as hard as that year was, I’m stronger for it. Here’s to twenty-seven and the lessons, failures, and successes that come with it.
❤ The Lady Lynx
*I would like to emphasize that my opinions and views are my own and I would never force them on other people. My beliefs get me through my day to day life.