Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Learning to Love Myself

For the record, that is not me in the picture but I still thought it was cute and fit with this post.

For many years after my reversion there was one thing that many priests told me: I'm too hard on myself. Part of that was due to the scrupulosity I developed upon my reversion (I wanted to not do anything dumb that would cause me to not receive the Eucharist so I was too overly cautious) and the other part was the fact that I grew up feeling like I was never good enough.

Before I go on I should say that I love my parents. Mom and I still have our strong disagreements at times (differing temperaments) but I still love her. Dad's been gone for almost 6 years now but I still love him as well. I'm so grateful for them and how they raised me because it helped me become the young woman that I am. I mean absolutely no disrespect to them when I say that, though I love them, I know that I'm too hard on myself because that's a habit I picked up growing up.

Growing up, I never felt I was "good enough." Someone was always *insert positive trait* more than I was. Yes, my parents did a great job cheering me on whenever I did something praiseworthy (mostly academic; straight As, awards, graduations)... but there were also comments about how I needed to do/be more. By the time I was old enough to realize that the constant comparisons had hurt my self-esteem, it was too late; the habit was so ingrained in me that I didn't think I would be able to break it. I still struggle with it, but it's becoming easier to deal with.

If one good thing came out of my leaving the speech-language pathology program, it was that I learned to love myself as I am. For the first time in my academic career, I had failed. The one thing I excelled at during most of my life, I couldn't complete. It wasn't because I didn't try hard (my current crummy health is the result of the stress, lack of sleep, and push I did during those 6 months), it just wasn't for me. Having to step back and go "whoa, okay, this is obviously not working; I need to take better care of myself" was the silver lining in this poopy diaper situation. Telling myself that I didn't need to finish this just to show others that I could do it -- that it didn't define who I was -- was the first step in being easier on myself.

Ever since November 14th (the day I officially sent my leave of absence from Utah State), I've been on a mission to take better care of myself. For years I've taken care of others but for the first time in my life, I'm looking after my needs. It's somewhat of a foreign concept to me and I feel selfish at times but I know that I need to do it. This means sleeping more, eating better, exercising more (when the doctor lets me...), de-stressing, and basically doing things for myself. While in the past I might've felt guilty for taking some time off (and I occasionally still feel guilty), I'm learning to say "no, it's okay to take this break; I need it for myself and my health."

Beyond taking care of my physical needs, I'm learning to take care of my mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. I allow myself to do things that may seem silly or boring to others. I love solving puzzles (always have; I used to take apart -- and put back together -- the family vacuum for fun as a child) so I let myself take some time out of my day to work on puzzles or play an online game that isn't time consuming (the one I'm playing takes, at most, 10-15 minutes of my time). I'm a very visual person who feels much younger than she is so I let myself have a little time out to color in some coloring books. (side note: this, by the way, is an excellent way to de-stress or tame anxiety because it makes you focus on something else other than your worries.) Having an accountability person (other than my spiritual director) has also been great for my prayer life.

One of the biggest things I've learned (and am still learning) to do is being okay with my so-called flaws. I think part of that comes with getting older but I also remind myself that I'm not perfect... nor do I want to be. I like all my little quirks. I still get embarrassed when I get caught singing or dancing (especially at the grocery store; I seriously don't even realize I'm singing or dancing along to whatever they have playing until it's too late) but that's okay. It's just who I am -- I'm a happy little nerd who does these things. I may not be *insert trait*, but I'm okay with that. Someone will always be better than I am at everything. However, that doesn't matter as long as I remember that what really matters is that I'm consistently trying to be a good person who loves God. I may fail (miserably some times) but I'll never stop trying. As long as these little things are adding up to a healthier, happier me, I'll be okay.

Earlier this morning I sent out a tweet that said:

I've been denying myself of luxuries for so long that the gift (to myself) of a mug and the Lent journal seem like I'm spoiling myself. However, I think I've earned the right to get myself a little something for Valentine's Day. Remember, the day is not only about romantic love (although consumerism really goes with). :D

Anyway, this is what's been bouncing in my head this morning. I only slept about 3 - 3.5 hours last night and I'm just getting sleepy enough to try to take a nap. Interesting to see what goes on in one's mind while sleep deprived... Okay, I just yawned and it's getting harder to keep my eyes open so nap it is. :D

Before I take a nap, I would like to give you a challenge: I dare you (all of you lovely readers) to do something for yourself today. Having a good dessert/chocolate bar. Take a nap. Color. Take 5 minutes out of your day and do nothing. Whatever floats your boat and makes you happy, do it. Smile and remember how awesome you are. :)

I hope y'all have a great rest of day!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D


Sonia said...

Ahh Emmy.... Yet I ask God that I could be more a daughter to him like you. Happy Valentine's Day Em, Your fan, admirer, student/fan and reader.
P.S. I'm going to say a Rosary Exclusively for You, to boost you up, up. And it's going to be right now (1:00am) sleep deprived, some juice (sacrifice) to see what happens ; I'm on it. Happy Valentine's Day Emmy.

Sonia said...

I just want you to feel better