Where were you a year ago?

If you would have told me a year ago that my life would be where it is right now, I wouldn’t have believed you.

A year ago, I was wrestling with still settling into a new work environment, questioning if I wanted to stay with my current company and if I could find my tribe at my new location. 

A year ago, I was trying to buy into a new mindset, one that promised me food freedom and sanctuary from my inner mean girl, a mindset that was another step on my journey to heal my eating disorder.

A year ago, the casual, not entirely together relationship-thing I was in began to fall apart. This friendship-turned-something-more became a sanctuary from my previous relationship. As my girlfriend and I took some time to be apart and think about things, here I was, craving excitement, a reprieve from the drama, and I found it for a short while…with a guy.

A year ago, I was looking for validation and approval from everything else and from everyone else. 

I was afraid and insecure and overwhelmed with feelings of not-enough.

When we look for our worth outside of ourselves, that kind of self-validation keeps us trapped. It forces us to try harder and to sacrifice our values and principles in hopes that we’ll be loved, worthy and enough. But the more we search, the less we find.

The harder I fought to prove I was good enough at my job, the more not-enough I felt. The harder I fought to hold onto the casual relationship that I knew wasn’t good for me, the deeper I slipped into self-depreciation and despair. The more I battled with the voice in my head around self-worth and body image, the louder it became.

As the distance grew in my casual relationship and as feelings of not-belonging intensified in my work environment and my own body, I fell apart. Literally and figuratively.

Most days, it took concerted effort to simply breathe. 

Thank god for the close friends who kept picking me up so I could take my next few wobbly steps forward, before falling down again. Thank god they kept picking me up and kept reminding me of the one thing I always remind my classes to do: just breathe.

Between Thanksgiving and February of last year I did A LOT of breathing (and crying) and when you get quiet enough to let your breath overpower the cacophony of thoughts that berate you, something profound happens: you find space, stillness, a calm solitude that almost feels unreal and in those magical moments, you discover hope, a voice that says, Hey. I see you. It’s OK and it’s going to be OK. Nothing lasts forever. And, even though you’re not entirely sure you believe it, you hold onto that moment because it’s the only thing keeping you afloat until you find another moment like it. And it was those moments, as far and as few between as they were sometimes, that got me to my next breath – breaths that led to moments and moments that eventually turned into days and weeks.

There wasn’t a defining moment where I could say I saw the light at the end of the tunnel or that I woke up one day and felt better; it was more of feeling lighter all of a sudden, a not-quite-so-heavy-kind-of-feeling where the breathing just happens and isn’t so belabored, moments that make you wonder, Is this the “other side”? Or, is it a moment of calm before another storm?

I look back a year ago and it’s almost surreal to be standing where I am. It’s literally a 180 from where I was last year.

I’ve found my tribe at Ardmore and I realized in the transition of locations, you never really lose the relationships of the people who know the content of your heart. That kind of love goes deeper than circumstance (#fortfam). 

I’ve released this need to prove anything to anyone. While I’m always seeking out opportunities to grow and learn, I emphatically know I’m very good at what I do and my worth isn’t contingent upon a class number or status. 

I’m in a relationship that is so fulfilling on every level it’s crazy to think it’s real, especially because I wasn’t looking for anyone – a guy no less! – when he waltzed into my class last Spring.  I’m the happiest and most grounded I’ve ever been because I am the most authentic version of myself when I’m with him.

And, while I’m still working on healing my relationship to my body (something no doubt I’ll always be working on to some degree), the self-deprecating thoughts are less frequent, the days of punishing myself are far and few between and while there’s still moments of not liking how something looks, most days I appreciate my health and that my body allows me to do my dream job.

A year of difference can make all the difference – and sometimes that’s hard to see when we’re knee deep in life’s shit.

When I look back a year ago until now, the biggest difference that made the difference was breathing. There were things I couldn’t change a year ago and even if circumstances did change, if my happiness was intricately tied to that thing and not something coming from inside me, I was always a victim to what was going on around me. I would always be trapped. 

Breaking the cycle of contingences meant I had to breathe my way out of it. I had to feel my way through the uncomfortable shit. I had to wrestle with some deep stories of unworthiness. I had to untangle myself from the throes of resentment. I had to get brutally honest and acknowledge that while I couldn’t control what was happening around me, I was the single common denominator in my life which meant the only person that could change the course I was on…was me.

They say time heals everything and there is some truth to that, but here’s the caveat – 

You have to do the work

You have to feel the really shitty stuff in order to separate the emotion from the story

You have to get brutally honest with yourself and the shit you’re allowing to impact your life

All the time in the world can pass, but unless you deal with the pain, it’s still gonna be there waiting for you at the end of the road.

Where were you a year ago? Where has your life shifted and how?

I’d love to hear about your reflection in the comments below 😊

PS: And, if you’re here reading this and you’re in the midst of some deep ish, I see you. I feel you.  I love you. And I’m here for you. Rooting for you. Because whether or not you know it at this moment, you’re one hell of a strong human being. Trust me, you are. So, hang in there. Breathe. Let your friends in and let them help pick you up. Continue to breathe and feel your way through it all. Know that with time and self-work, real healing happens.