Well it’s that time of year again! The. End. Of. It. I know these posts are all over the place, but I enjoy reading them, so I might as well give my own take right? Alright friends, here we go.
I think it is appropriate to call 2019 the Year of Rediscovering Myself. Because of this 2019 will more than likely always hold a special place in my heart. At the end of 2018 I didn’t know who I was. I was legitimately a bit of a hollow shell as I had let many other people and things decide what I needed to do, say, and feel. I tried all the tricks I had in the past to make myself feel better, but this time I decided I had to do something drastic if I was going to be the person I really wanted to be; I had to consider taking medication to help with my anxiety and depression. Why had I not done this in the past? Well I was always scared that it would alter my personality and make me unrecognizable to others. In a way it did, but for the better. A new Sarah did emerge in the beginning of 2019 (me and the pills had to get to know each other), but one that was healthier and could focus on my own happiness and the happiness of those around me. I also committed to therapy in a way I never had before. I let my therapist in and placed all of my cards in the table. In the past I had treated therapy like a Broadway show. I said the lines I needed to, cried on cue, and separated myself from the character sitting on the couch. I just needed my therapist to tell me “bravo” at the end of the session so I could feel I was accomplished. This time would be different. And this is where my journey really begins to take off.
I decided now that I was in a better headspace to start thinking about the things that I wanted to do, the things I needed to do, to regain my identity.
Now I know this next part may sound silly, but for all my fellow fanatics out there, you will understand. One of the first things I really wanted to do was go to a Phoenix Suns game. I had not been in years and could only name two people on the team. I had to get the purple and orange running through my veins again. I found tickets, threw on something purple or orange, and got my game face on. Now the Suns, well, they were pretty terrible at the time. But you know what, I witnessed a miracle!
I hooted and hollered at the top of my lungs. I clapped until my hands looked like they had been roasting in the sun for 15 minutes (all of my pale peeps know what is up). I jumped up and down until my calves screamed at me. I ran to the team shop and purchased a shirt so that I could once again feel like a true sixth man.
Now while this doesn’t seem like a life-altering moment, it meant so much. The Suns represent the birth of my love of sports which is a huge part of who I am. The Suns gave me so many memories with my father and my grandmother that I truly cherish. I saw them as a team that rolled with the punches and left their heart out on the court night after night. That always truly resonated with me. However over the past few years prior to this joyous evening in January, I had not let myself go. Why? Well the reasons still makes me clench my jaw. First and foremost is I honestly didn’t feel like I had the energy to go. Work would wipe my out. I was studying for exams. I would use the last bit of my energy to do things others wanted me to do and never spoke up about what I wanted to do. I was in a relationship in which my partner didn’t like basketball and had expressed that he had no desire to go to a game. Now this is no fault of his, but I turned that into “I then can’t go because we should be doing things together we both like. I don’t want to drag him to something that makes him unhappy, but I also don’t want to leave him alone. I can just watch the games on television.” However, I would always try to drop little hints about us going to game, but I never had the courage to say “hey this means a lot to me and is a big part of who I am. It would touch my heart so much if you would come to a game with me.” And yes I know some of you out there may be thinking “screw this guy, he should have wanted to do this with you because he loved you” and while I acknowledge to validity of that sentiment, I decided to turn it into a learning moment for myself and take mental notes of how it made me feel and how I would make sure to respect my voice in the future. Cut back to 2019, and I have learned to do just that. When there is something that I want to do, whether it means a whole lot to me or is just something new I want to explore, I make it known it is something I want to do. Do I expect everyone to jump at the chance to have the same experience I am hoping to have? NOPE! Can I be comfortable in my own skin and do that thing on my own? YEP! Can I enjoy myself with no guilt of having a quality me moment rather than a we moment with others? HECK YEP! Me time is so beneficial to mental health, even in the most intimate of relationships. I started to piece together what I wanted was for every moment to be a “we” moment, but realized I needed to have “me” moments. I have found a great balance of those in 2019, and look forward to building the library of both “we” and “me” moments in the years to come.
What a nice transition to my next topic of 2019; my relationships. Good job on the set-up Sarah! Thanks Sarah! Self-love at work. Oh gosh what is happening? I know! I am loving myself so that I can better love others. My favorite quote of all time comes from a man named Jim Rohn.
“The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development. I used to say ‘if you take care of me, I will take care of you.’ now I say ‘I will take care of me for you, if you take care of you for me.'”
Now first we will talk about friendships since that is the easy part. I have amazing friends! I truly feel blessed every day to have these unique, inspiring, beautiful people in my life. They are there for the good times and the bad, we grow together, and most importantly we understand each other’s personalities and boundaries and respect each other.
Now for the not so easy part. I am habitually in a relationship. I think the longest period I have ever been single is a couple of months. Now the reason for this in the past was it was truly a way to qualify my self-worth. If someone else liked or even better loved me, well then I surely had to be special. If no one did, well then surely there was something wrong with me. Such an ugly way to value my own self-worth. The end of 2018 was no different. I had just gotten out of a five year relationship that did not end well, and within a month I was back on the dating apps and such trying to fill the gaping hole in my self-worth. It was such a paradox because I had been so proud of myself for finding my voice and finally leaving an emotionally unfit situation for myself, but it was as if I was writing blank checks to my self-esteem. I ended up meeting a nice guy the end of 2018 and we dated on and off until the about August of 2019. Now an on-again, off-again relationship was not something I was at all accustomed to as I had never been in that situation. The reason for this type of relationship was largely my doing. Now you might be thinking “oh come now, this couldn’t be all your fault. Surely there is something he did that contributed to the uncertainty of this whole thing.” My response to that would be, yes in fact he did, but I allowed it to happen. Part of the reason I allowed it to happen is because while I was on this emotional journey to find my true self, I was truly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in my own mind. Because of this I wasn’t clear when expressing my feelings. I would act one way one moment, and then backtrack the next. I convinced myself that I was better so we could give this thing a shot again. I was blind to the fact that the differences we had were quite significant and would make it impossible for us to be a couple, or even friends for that matter. I was so worried about hurting him, but eventually finally realized I couldn’t hurt myself anymore.
By August I was no longer Jekyll or Hyde, I was Sarah. I was also a woman who was ready to only be in a relationship with herself. I didn’t know it at the time, but while on a road trip through California I was about to fall madly in love with myself. I then got the courage to ask myself out on another adventure of a date to Colorado, and it was there I made the pact that I would always love and cherish myself first and make sure I was the best person I could be so that one day I could share, not give away, my heart full of joy and wonderment to someone truly special. For a month after that, I did exactly that. I explored the things I enjoyed and filled my heart, mind and soul. I started going to book clubs and the library more regularly, I spent more time with friends and family, I dove into work, I sat in local coffee shops and diners and did whatever felt right, I listened to music and danced and sang like no one was watching, and for one of the first times in my life I set goals for myself and started to take steps to achieve them without the feeling of anxiety.
The true test of just how in love with myself was right around the corner, and spoiler alert, I passed that sucker with flying colors! Within the same week I would meet a new man that I instantly clicked with and go on a trip to Salt Lake City with on-again off-again. While on the trip I set my boundaries and stuck to them. It would have been so easy to get swept up in the awesomeness of the trip and be on-again to make everything “feel right.” But I didn’t want to cheat on myself. It also would have been so easy to disconnect from the trip and just focus on doing and saying whatever I needed to make new guy like me. But I didn’t want to cheat myself from an experience in a new place. Salt Lake City, by the way, is a truly amazing city that I would not hesitate to visit again.
When I got back from Utah, it wasn’t long until answers to the test would reveal themselves, and I would realize I passed. Soon I would receive a very demeaning text from on-again off-again as he did not approve of me talking to new guy and clearly of the relationship I had developed with myself that left him behind. My answer to that was “it is not alright for you to disrespect me that way. I wish you the best in life, but I will not be a part of that life.” DING! Correct answer! Meanwhile I was getting correct answer after the next with new guy. I was open about who I was, the journey I had been on this year, opened up about how I was feeling without fearing repercussions, and made sure I still had a good balance of “me” time in addition to “we” time. DING, DING, DING!
I am now in a relationship in which I feel like an equal. I feel respected. I feel heard. I feel happy. And most importantly, I feel my own self-worth while at the same time appreciating his. It is such a beautiful thing to experience. I feel closer to my friends more now than I have in the past as well because I am free from the noise and we can just experience each other. I know there will be times here and there in which I need to just let some noise be noise, but I know they will be there as they always have and we will continue to grow together.
With both of these moments the last thing I did in 2019 was truly address an item that has always been hard for me; my family. Unfortunately my family and I are not that close. In the past I internalized this a lot and didn’t let my mind really explore how I truly felt about my family. I don’t want to go heavy into details out of respect for my family, but their actions and my own have made me feel like somewhat of an outsider when it comes to them. Is it beyond repair for some of them? Perhaps. Am I just not ready quite yet to really take that next step? Perhaps. What I do know is that I took time to set up my boundaries and better prepare for myself for if/when that time comes. 2019 has seen me bonding more and more with my brother, his wife, and his wonderful children. I remember going months, even years seeing them sometimes, but now it is on a regular basis. I have also developed a pretty good relationship with my sister-in-law which I am truly appreciative of. This was also the first time since my dad passed away in which the thought of him made me feel more inspired than sad. My dad has always been inspirational to me and his spirit has always lived in me to help me grow and achieve, but the thought of him came with so much sadness in the past. This year I noticed a shift. A shift that came out of nowhere. A shift that is still mysterious to me. A shift that I truly appreciate all the same. That shift is that when I think of my dad, I think of how lucky I was to have him. How much I am like him. How many things I am experiencing that he would have wanted me to experience, specifically on my own. How many things I see in the world through my eyes that he also saw and that keeps us connected. My spirit is full and nourished. I am my father’s daughter. I am the woman he wanted me to be as he held me in his arms when I was a baby. Everything he wanted and more.
All of this culminated into a year ending in tears. Literally. Just yesterday I sat in the shower and cried tears of joy for how loved I have made myself feel this year. Even when I had messed up, I owned it, processed it, learned from it, and became a stronger person. When I did something great, I owned it, processed it, learned from it, and became a stronger person. 2019, you were really good to me. You were rough and put me through some stuff, but you knew I would come out the other end stronger. 2020 will continue to be a year of growth, but I want to make this my year of experiences. And what do you know, you will find me the first weekend of the year camping out in the wilderness and climbing through some caves. Rad!
I hope everyone else had a truly inspiring 2019, and I would encourage all of you to look for what can possibly be gained from any truly puzzling or uncomfortable moments. There are some moments that have no lessons and we just have to let time heal, so I hope 2020 can be a great time of healing for those of you who need that. One thing I hope we will all do in 2020 is to love more. Specifically fall in love with yourself. It is the best relationship you will ever have in your life.