Don’t hate me for getting that song stuck in your head (smile).
When I was a little girl, I had a white “leather” coat. It wasn’t really leather of course, but it had the look of leather. It had two square pockets on the front of it and a belt to tie around your waist. I LOVED it! I’m pretty sure it was a fancy coat to go with my Easter outfit that year because Easter was early and it was a bit chilly. Once Easter was over though, my mom let me wear it outside to play.
Since I was only seven years old, it was inevitable that one day I would outgrow my beloved coat. But I wasn’t letting it go without a fight! As the months went by, my coat was getting tighter and shorter much to my dismay. Then one fateful day my coat was the cause of a bit of a catastrophe. I was wearing it as I was outside playing with friends. I don’t remember what we were playing, but there was running involved. I don’t know WHAT possessed me to run with my hands in those square pockets on the front of my coat. Since the coat was quite small at this point, my hands did not easily slide into those pockets…and they also did not slide out easily. As I was running down the sidewalk, my feet made contact with a small crack in said sidewalk. The momentum caused me to lurch forward…and I did a face plant onto the sidewalk. My hands were trapped in the pockets and there was nothing to break my fall. I had a nice scrape under my nose just in time for school pictures. My mom was none too happy about that.
Sadly that was the end of my beloved coat. I had to let it go.
As I write this, we are in the first week of yet another new year. The older I get the faster the years seem to go. I don’t really do new year’s resolutions. Instead I tend to look back at the year that has come to an end and reflect on the highs and lows. I feel like 2022 was a unique year for me in that I spent a lot of time on myself. To be honest I’m not used to that and it felt very foreign to me. There were two good reasons that it was necessary…my brain and my body.
The end of 2021 I was met with something I’ve never experienced before…a panic attack. The year was filled with strife that I was indirectly a part of. By nature I am a peace maker. I don’t like conflict…AT ALL. I feel like I have the ability to see both sides of situations, but not everyone wants peace. I lived in that tension for a year. At the end of the year I lost 3 family members within two weeks of each other…two on the same day. Add to that the residual effects of the pandemic and the daily struggle of living with an autoimmune disorder and my brain broke.
So 2022 was a year of healing for me and that meant I had to focus on me. I learned a lot about myself. The biggest lesson learned was that I don’t take care of myself the way I should. I have always been a head down, boots to the ground, I’m going to beat this no matter what kind of person with just about every situation that comes my way. I especially felt that way when it came to my health. An “I’m not going to let no autoimmune disorder stop me!” kind of attitude. To be honest…I never really accepted that I had one. I tend to handle stressful situations well when they hit and I then tend to crash afterwards. The problem was that I never tended to myself in the crash. Boy did that catch up to me at the end of 2021.
I had to look back at many situations that have happened over the years and realize that I never really dealt with them. Just keep soldiering forward was my mantra. I didn’t realize that this is what I was doing of course. And in some cases I didn’t feel like I had a choice…you do what you have to do kind of thing. Like losing my mom at 28 with two young kids. I really didn’t have the space to grieve and I’ve had to learn how to do that 26 years later.
Probably the most helpful thing I learned this past year was to let go of expectations that I had for myself. One of the burdens of having an autoimmune disorder that causes fatigue and pain is that when you do try to rest you feel like you are being lazy. I know this is not just a me thing. I’ve heard others in the same boat express this as well. So I would push myself constantly even when my body protested. I would rest some trying to convince myself that I was taking care of myself by doing so, but I was kidding myself. It wasn’t enough and my body finally said enough is enough.
I spent the first two months of 2022 in front of the television. I still worked my job which is very part time, but in my down time I watched shows that took place in beautiful places. I watched tons of renovation shows which tend to be my favorite. I watched baking shows, and pottery shows, and a sweet little show about dogs who find their forever homes. It happened to be what my brain needed to slow down and allow my body to catch up. I had to let go of that I’m being lazy feeling. And it helped…a lot.
I ended 2022 on a much better note. I still feel like I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all (smile). I’m working hard at not falling into my old habits. I’m learning to continue to let go of expectations that aren’t healthy for me and I’m looking forward to what 2023 has for me to learn.
Sometimes we need to let go of possessions…like our favorite clothing item that no longer fits…and sometimes we need to let go of things that aren’t healthy for us. I guess you could say it’s an act of loving ourselves. We won’t be good at loving others if our tanks are empty.
And love matters…