A letter to myself this Holiday Season  -dealing with life after loss and everything in between ❤️

I see how tired you are of trying to put on a smile every time you feel sad for missing them. Just know that it’s ok to not be ok.

Missing them is how you show you love them no matter how much time passes. I see how much pain your heart feels when you try to be everything to everyone who needs you but in turn you neglect yourself; making sure everyone around you is happy. Please stop feeling guilty for saying no. Do what fills you up because you absolutely cannot pour from an empty cup.

I see you cry yourself to sleep over the smallest triggers that no one around you sees or understands. Certain foods around the holidays that make you think of them can literally ruin your day because  the ache of missing them is just too much.

I see you struggling to show up for everyone in your life except yourself. I see the inward battle of you juggling how to check everything off your list for the week and feeling sad because there just isn’t enough time for you. That is a lie. Be present for your family and your inner circle of friends and of course for your job, but never let any of those things take precedence over your needs and health. It’s not selfish to take care of you.

Take a deep breath and speak positive words into your soul today. Everything is going to be ok. You’ve got this. Christmas is coming and the pain is getting more intense and so is the guilt for dreading the happiest day of the year. It’s ok to not be ok. Feel all of the things and let them go. Remember that you can only control how you respond to situations that arise, not the circumstances themselves. I believe in you.

So turn on the Christmas music that reminds you of those magical times as a child with your family. The times when there was no stress or hurt and hold onto those memories. It’s ok to not repeat all of the same traditions that your missing loved ones did for you and instead pick the most memorable ones and stick to those while creating your own. I see how overwhelmed you feel every time you think of the holidays and how on earth you’re supposed to recreate all of those special times for your family when you can’t even get through the day without being angry at the ones you’ve lost for not being here.

You cry at the littlest things and then feel guilty for being emotional. There’s this deep loyalty within you that is still trying to please them with your service even though they aren’t here. It’s ok to let go. They still love you from above and they see how hard you try…as a wife, and a full time working mama. They understand and they are cheering you on because you, mama, are doing the very best you can.

Take another deep breath and remember who you are. The wife who loves hard through every trial, the mom who puts herself last daily but still feels guilty for going to work every day because she didn’t give of herself enough today. You are amazing and strong. You give every ounce of your strength to your family even if they don’t see it and I’m proud of you. Keep pushing and remember that these hard times with a toddler are temporary so love him fiercely through the tantrums and hold him through the growing pains. Keep being the sister you are and the friend you are. I know you don’t think you ever give enough but I see that you give absolutely everything you can. Rest well knowing that you try your best ❤️

Through all of the madness of this crazy, beautiful life PLEASE don’t forget who God made you to be. Don’t stop taking bubble baths when you need time to decompress and don’t stop making time for you. It’s what makes you the best version of yourself and the people around you need that version the most. Make this holiday season the best you can and be ok with all the other stuff that may not be perfect. Leave the house a mess for a day if it means spending time loving your babies. It can wait. You’ll be there tomorrow to be super mom and clean up the all messes, but today they will only remember you being present. You’ve got this and you are more than enough. On the days you don’t see that, remember that they do ❤️

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Marriage Talk

We all have that fairytale dream of marrying our prince charming or princess one day right? And once we do, life will be complete. I laughed out loud while writing that sentence because it made me think about how childlike we as humans can be while trying to plan out our futures. Very small minded and most of us don’t put a lot of reality doses into that life when we’re dreaming it up. But I’ll give you a little reality check this morning.

Chad and I will have been married for seven years in a little over a month. Crazy right?! And the funny part is, I feel like we are just now starting to figure each other out. I hear that’s normal but how insane does that sound?! It takes seven or more years to learn enough about a person enough to be able to resolve conflicts better. I swear we just figured out our love languages in the past two months thanks to marriage counseling. Don’t freak out because we’re going to counseling, I feel it’s important for every couple to do it at some point in their relationship. Maybe even ten times if need be. But, seriously, we are just now figuring each other out and with that comes some peace for having the answers to our questions, but then comes the hard part: applying what we’re learning.

Maybe you are newly married or maybe you’re a marriage veteran, either way I’m sure this applies to you. Marriage is HARD. It’s amazing as well but it’s also the hardest, most humbling experience you will ever face in your existence. You give your heart and body to a single person for life and they get to know all the baggage and flaws that come with those two parts of you. Not only do you give yourself to that person, but you are on the receiving end as well. You get that gorgeous man or woman for life. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Through wealth, or being so poor you can’t afford your next meal. Through the happy days full of health and through the really crappy ones when you’re letting them see you at your most vulnerable times. That could mean mental or physical health. You sign up for the whole shebang when you say “I do.”

I love my husband with every ounce of my being. He is my other half in the truest sense. But we are also as different as night and day and some moments those differences can be blinding. I’m writing this to you today because maybe you’re going through the beginning of newlywed bliss, or maybe your marriage is in the valley right now. Maybe those newlywed days are all but a memory. I’m here to tell you there is hope! Wanna know my secret?

You can fix it almost every time. Wanna know how? With yourself. I’ve always believed that love is an action word instead of the feeling we are all accustomed to hearing about. Your parents will tell you that you should always feel loved in a relationship and I’m here to tell you that is complete bull. There are going to be times in your marriage when you are lonely and downright bewildered. You’re sitting there wondering where that person went that you “fell in love with.” Well, they are human just like you and sometimes in the heat of life’s disappointments we show our worst sides to the ones we love most. It’s in those times when you have a choice to make. You can either fight for your relationship and your spouse with all your might or you can give up because you’re not feeling it anymore. But I can promise you this, love is a choice. My definition of love is this: giving of yourself, holding nothing back and expecting nothing in return.

Now please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying; it’s not that you need to be a martyr in your relationship. That’s not it at all. I’m just so tired of the lies that our society feeds us on the daily. If it feels good, do it! If someone treats you badly, give them hell! What is that really accomplishing? In my experience, going through the hard times makes you that much stronger together. It tests the very depths of who you think you are as a person, causing you to cling to the ones you love because you have nothing left. It’s in those times of difficulty that you see that love shine through.

So my advice to you if you’re newly married or getting married soon; don’t place unrealistic expectations on your spouse. This will automatically set you up for some major disappointments early in your relationship that will lead to resentment later down the road. Don’t be overly critical of your him/her. Speak in love when it’s necessary, but for goodness sake, choose your battles wisely. Ask yourself if that particular issue is really worth fighting over. Cherish the good days when you have them. Those are the moments you will go back to in your mind when the days seem unbearable in your relationship or your not “feeling the love.” Because let’s face it, we are all sinners saved by grace and none of us show love at all moments of the day. Know now that most likely the qualities that attracted you to your significant other will drive you crazy a few years down the road. Because, typically, those qualities are who your mom or dad was to you, and they are your polar opposites. Try to appreciate these differences even when they annoy you greatly, because those qualities are why you mesh.

If you’ve been married for a bit and you’re wondering what went wrong, this is for you. Remember that no one is perfect. Not even you!  Especially not you, though you  probably believe you are right in whatever you both are arguing about. I see you. I know it’s hard and it can be really frustrating when you’re going through those hard times together. But these things have helped us immensely: Don’t play mind games. If you are both wrong (you probably are so don’t try to deny it,) don’t wait for the other to apologize first because you are just wasting precious time. If you’re going to fight, fight fair. Say what needs to be said and be done with with it. Don’t focus on the person in front you as much as the action that caused the hurt. The action is what hurt you and most times your spouse didn’t intend it at all. Give them a chance before bringing down the sword on them. Learn to forgive easily. It takes practice for most of us because we all bring a little (or a lot) of baggage into our marriages that prevent us from loving and forgiving easily. Giving and asking for forgiveness is the heart of marriage. We all mess up, and learning to accept that and move on from it makes all the difference in the world. So if you’re in the midst of a hard time I want you to write down five things that you love about your spouse. Write down those five qualities that make your heart soar and I promise you if it’s really, really hard….you most likely need to be the first to apologize because you were wrong. You forgot all the reasons why they are amazing. You only get one life so make it count. And the great part is, once you’re done I know you will want to go make things right and move on together because you love him/her. At the end of the day, love wins if you let it. Don’t be the one to hinder love from being the best it can be.

Marriage is hard, but so worth the effort. Cheers to a wonderful Wednesday. Make sure you tell me when you get a card or flowers for being the superhero to surprise your spouse by saying sorry first and taking the heat. You will surprise the heck out of them, don’t worry 😉

Let’s talk about grief

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Grief as defined by the dictionary is a deep sorrow. Other versions of the word say that grief is love. You loved someone so much that to grieve them is to love them. Makes sense. I’ve had my first real glimpse into the world of sorrow since losing both of my parents ten months ago to suicide. So from an insiders view, I wanted to share with you a few things I’ve learned that you can do to help someone who is grieving a loved one.

Don’t say nothing
I’ve heard it a million times by now that you don’t know what to say so you think saying nothing or ignoring me is respectful or somehow doing me a favor. I’m here to tell you that’s so far from the truth. It’s not what you say or having the right thing to say that matters, it’s saying something; because saying nothing feels like you don’t care, I can promise you that. I have yet to understand why it’s easier for complete strangers to talk to me more about what I’m going through than my friends and family. I can count on my fingers the amount of people who have actually asked me straight up how I’m doing.

Don’t tell me I’m strong
It might sound ridiculous and petty, but please don’t tell me I’m so much stronger than you or that you admire my strength because if it were you, you’d be in bed with the covers over your head all day. Each person goes through grief in their own way and at their own pace. Just because I may not be handling it the way you think you would does not make me strong. It makes me different. It makes me, me. Saying I’m strong feels like a cop out to not have to deal with my feelings or actually talk to me about what I’m going through. I can also tell you that I don’t feel strong. I choose to get up each day and do the things I know need to get done because life goes on even if I want it to stop for me sometimes and wallow with me. I have a busy toddler who needs me so I choose to be there for him because it’s not his fault that I’m in pain.

I want you to talk about them
I want to hear their names every once in a while. I get that they weren’t your parents and that you don’t feel the same as I do, but please don’t feel you’re doing me a service by pretending they didn’t exist. Talking about them actually helps me to heal and honor who they were to me. I miss them terribly and ignoring that they were alive or purposely not mentioning their names because you’re afraid of upsetting me actually hurts more. So feel free to share a funny memory with me or a picture every once in a while.

Don’t treat me like I’m broken
I can’t stress this one enough. Yes I’ve been through hell recently, but please stop treating me like a glass doll when you talk to me. I will never be the same person I was, but I’m still a person. I like to go shopping, have coffee with friends, and chat just like anyone else. And understand that if you do talk to me, you don’t have to mention what I’ve been through every time. I’m convinced that this is why I’ve lost or become distant with so many friends over the past 10 months. It’s because you’re worried that if you ask how I’m doing that I’ll start crying or something and you’ll get stuck not knowing what to say or do. I can assure you that I can still have a normal conversation with you and that you don’t have to hide from me. I will only talk to you about my situation if you ask me specifically. I have literally seen some of you look at me and walk in the opposite direction in the grocery store because you’re too afraid to talk to me. Just think about what that message sends.

Don’t give me space when I need you most
I’ve had a front row seat to watching family members and friends spiral from depression and watching everyone close to them disappear. Even if you don’t know how to handle the situation, try to be there in the best way you know how. I can tell you that helps so much more than saying or doing the “wrong thing.” I think we all get caught up in our busy lives and choose to leave the hurting alone because we aren’t hurting at that moment or we think we’ll mess them up more. A kind gesture or word can literally lift a depressed mood from a person and give them a reason to keep going. It’s when you stop reaching out that the depression can become too much. It’s amazing what the power of a word or hug can do. I’ve had people tell me that they gave me space for 6-8 months because they thought that was what I needed. Please let me be the judge of that for myself. But this goes for anyone in your life. I write this today because I want you to be aware that depression is real and it can most definitely end a person’s life. I share this because I want to create awareness for something that affected me and my family directly. Suicide is a real problem and it’s not one that’s talked about enough. Please don’t get the wrong idea that I’m feeling what I just described above. I’m simply advocating for someone who might not be able to ask you for help. I can tell you that anyone who is contemplating ending their life doesn’t want to die. They just want to stop hurting. Suicide is 100% preventable and it’s our job to be there to help as much as humanly possible.