At the beginning of the summer, while visiting family in UT, I had a bit of a breakdown. It just snuck up on me and knocked me flat on my back. Although short in duration (two days), it was a really difficult time for me. I felt so sad! I have never felt like that. Most of the time I think of myself as a happy, cheerful sort of person and I was just in the depths. (I imagine it was similar to what someone with depression feels like; definitely an eye-opener to me.) Jon was only with us for 3+ days and sadly I spent the last one in this funk. But before he headed home, we had a great discussion that helped me as I worked through things over the next couple of days. I just wanted to share what I learned about myself during that time and how it has changed me.
As I said, I was just sad; no other way to say it, just completely sad. I sat and watched my family and the kids and I felt nothing. For some reason, I just didn't like myself. I am not sure what triggered it, but when the switch flipped, I just became numb to happiness and felt such a raw, aching sadness, a loss for what? I didn't know. I called a good friend and she gave me a great piece of advice: let yourself feel it. Don't try to stop the emotion, just let yourself feel everything. It wasn't convenient. It wasn't fun, but it was good advice. It allowed me to be open to things I didn't want to see or feel, but by being open I was able to work through it instead of burying it.
If I explained everything I figured out, this post would be eternally long, so I will sum up.
I compare myself. Specifically I compare myself to everyone in my family. While visiting family, without even realizing it, I found something everyone else did that I felt was "better" than I could do. I wasn't giving myself any credit, just finding where I felt I fell short and magnifying it in my mind. It was so warped. Both of my sisters-in-law are pregnant and I was coming down on myself for not being pregnant, as though I somehow have control over that. I was even comparing my kids with their cousins. It was so mixed-up! In finding fault with myself, I had divided myself into little pieces and scattered them about leaving myself unwhole, broken if you will. In talking, Jon helped me to see things as they really are and helped me to see goodness in myself where my vision was temporarily clouded.
Another big one I figured out was that I still wanted my parents' approval. Actually, wanted is not entirely accurate. I needed my parents' approval. I messed up a lot as a teenager and I felt like I disappointed my parents so much. I hadn't dealt with that either. I haven't been a teenager for 14 years and I had left a little part of myself in that time.
When I recognized all these things and a few others, it was surprisingly easy to go in the other direction. It was a conscious choice, but not a difficult one. It wasn't something I just fixed, but I did change course immediately and started looking for things that I liked about myself. I realized that my parents love me and whether or not they approve of the choices I make is irrelevant. They love me. So many of things I worried about just don't matter. I can't control so much of what happens in life but the things I can control I do a pretty good job with. In fact, I do a lot of things well. And what I don't do well, I am learning to live with or improve where possible. The rest is extra. Now more than ever I feel like a whole person again. And being happy with me makes me smile, another thing I am good at.