Progress over perfection
Living in chaos for so long taught me how to survive.
When I first experienced depression, I remember feeling in ways I could never put in words. I tried telling those close to me that something was different. Something was off. But no one around me had ever experienced depression. This was before social media and Pinterest. Google was around but not like we know it today. I went to my doctor, and they put me on medicine. I have a sensitive system and all the medicine I tried just made me sick or crazy feeling. After a while people expected me to “go back to normal”, to “just get over it”. I didn’t know how to do that.
So, I learned to pretend everything was ok. I learned to put on the smile for everyone and push through. On the inside I was drowning, desperate for someone to see. I wanted someone to save me. The tricky part about hiding the way you feel on the inside is most people on the outside won’t know what’s going on.
Depression turned into anxiety. I worried constantly that the feeling I felt on the inside would show. I felt like a terrible mother. An awful housekeeper. I didn't even know how to be a friend. I was a crappy business owner; I mean was I even a business owner and was this even a business? I felt like nothing I did was as good as my potential. When I spoke out about my feelings, I was met with comments that made me feel judged. I became protective of myself and my feelings. It became “my little secret”. Looking back my life was a mess and unmanageable but I hid as much as I could from the world. Which means I faced most of my days alone.
I constantly compared myself to others and to my potential. I was comparing myself to a future version of myself that had never even existed. No wonder I felt crappy. I learned to perform better amongst the chaos. I was progressing in life; I was doing all the things I thought I was supposed to do only I was still doing it with depression and anxiety. This was not living, it was surviving.
In many ways I was learning to do better, to think better, to be a better person. God was working in me showing me the way out of my mess and I was seeing progress. However, there was a person in my life who was not on that same path. Their choices brought a lot of chaos in my life. No matter how much I was growing this chaos was holding me back. It would be easy for me to place a lot of blame on this person and their actions and truth be told I did for many years, but the reality is, I chose to stay. That is a different blog for a different day, but I chose to stay until I absolutely could not stay any longer.
Once I finally had the courage to change, to remove the chaos from my life, things were not immediately easy, but they were different. At first, I had all the energy I could focus on other areas of my life and man it felt awesome. After a while I started to slow down a bit. I started to process my emotions. I would be watching a movie, and something would trigger an emotion, I would just loose it. I would be listening to a song I had heard a million times and suddenly I was pulling over the car because I just couldn’t keep going. What was happening was that I had learned not to feel anything for so many years and now I was creating a space for me to feel, and boy was I feeling all the things I had put off for years.
I started to have a hard time hiding the way I used to. I couldn’t keep the smile on my face. I couldn’t go to work and pretend like everything was ok. This was so confusing and frustrating for me. How could I perform so well under so much stress for YEARS and now my life is calmer than ever? I just didn’t have the energy. I didn’t realize my body was switching from fight or flight mode. I had “energy” because my body was fighting to survive and now, I didn’t have to do that anymore. My faith has taught me to be kind to myself. My friends have taught me easy does it, one day at a time. I gave myself permission to let go of dreams and goals that I held on to for years. I’m still a work in progress but what I am learning to do is make room for what God has for me. I am making room for the new and I am happy with what I see. I am no longer trying to be perfect or the best. I am no longer comparing myself to some version of myself I thought I needed to be and instead I am only focusing on God and the day in front of me. Some days I am a rock star and I get all the things done and some days I lay in bed with my boy and watch TV. My kids are seeing a version of me they never saw before, and the great part is (lord willing) I still have a lot of life left to live.