I love customizing this, and might have to add another planner for journaling ;). We will see!
Here are some photos:
In early March this year, I saw multiple videos on YouTube with the hash tag #dearme. Essentially, it was women (and some men) writing letters to themselves as teens. It had something to do with International Women's Day. I was very inspired by this, so I wrote my own. I love the thought of giving recognition to the wisdom that has been gathered with passing years. It humbles and motivates me.
Anyway, here's my letter to me:
Dear teenage me,
Firstly, as awful as things seem, you WILL get through this time. I know, because I'm here! You are much stronger than you think.
I'm so proud of all of the art you make and your bright mind! But I am most proud of your HEART. Even years from now you will wear it on your sleeve, but I know now that is a strength, not a weakness. To be open, honest and truthful is....really important. It will give you freedom. And yes, even in your 40's you can cry at the drop of a hat.
I won't give you any advice on men. After you get past that older jerk (and you really should get past him!), you find a truly awesome guy, who sees through the fight and hurt and LOVES you. It won't always be easy and definitely isn't perfect, but you will mold each other as you grow, and every year you won't believe you could love him any more, but you do. You've got this covered.
I know now that all that fight you have in you is for things you need and deserve, even though you have no clue where it comes from right now. Confusing, isn't it? It took a long time to get that figured out, dear. That fight keeps you going when things happen down the road. It will morph into an asset.
Don't let that one sentence you heard from someone get seared into your head and change your entire view of your self-worth. It simply wasn't true. Do not blame yourself for that, it had nothing to do with you.
Don't get caught up in keeping up with your peers in regards to material things. When you get older and your health takes some blows, none of that stuff means anything. Having new cars, a bigger house, all that unnecessary shit you think you need will melt away. It is unimportant. Instead, concentrate on what you need to be healthy and HAPPY. And it isn't on an end cap at Target or in a new car, believe me. Having yourself and your family is everything. Build better bonds and deeper friendships - these things are free.
Get help being comfortable and happy with yourself. Address the dark, haunting emotional side effects of what you had to survive - this is not free, but worth every last cent. You will need to bare it all, and you won't want to, but it's essential for the help to work.
Try not to let people take advantage of you. It will be easy for them because you think you are worthless, like somehow you deserve to be treated less-than, but it simply isn't true. Dig deep for confidence! Be proud of what you accomplish! Your loyalty is second to none, but give it to things that give it back.
Exercise more while you can. At 41, you will literally dream of just running, hiking or doing daily tasks swiftly and without pain.....but it may not happen again. Do it all! Now!
And lastly, ALWAYS remember, you are ENOUGH. Be kind to and love yourself, it all starts there.
I forget sometimes that writing is very therapeutic for me. I have loads of files on my tablet containing drafted letters, random feelings, ideas, lists, goals, plans.... So I need to remember I have a blog and share some of it here. A little space dedicated to the very few who dig deep enough to find it, but mostly just a space I can get things out of my head to release it to the light of day. Why does that help? I don't know. But it does. Sometimes just seeing something in print gives it validity, solidifies it's existence even if its just thoughts or feelings. I think that's important for a girl like me. One that has felt like she's always had feelings that have been inconvenient, she's too emotional....had "wrong" feelings. Stuff it down Wendy! There are people in the world that have it much worse than you! The emotional equivalent to being told there are starving children in Africa, so clean your plate and quit whining. Well, to that I call bullshit. Sorry, but it has to change for my sanity. No more shame. It's been here too long.
The majority of people I know have no clue how much I have, and continue to battle with depression, anxiety and PTSD. And those that do know, really can't know to what degree, because I don't tell them. Not even my husband. Not that I don't trust him with that, but because it's all a lot to bear. He has a wonderful and caring soul, and I know how empathy can sometimes be a blessing and a curse....a blessing because it helps you to be understanding, a curse because you take some of the pain yourself. This is why I've paid someone to listen to my dark ramblings, real fears and personal demons. I've been at it (therapy) for more than 2 years now, and I'm not done. I DO feel better and more positive, although I discovered a very painful trigger to the PTSD recently. A trigger I didn't think could happen. It turns out I could and have forgiven the people who caused my initial pain, but I've discovered I still have work to do. And that makes me vulnerable to certain personalities...I lost one of my only close friends because of this. Cue the shame, guilt, feelings of responsibility for other people's emotions and lives.....double UGH. At my core I believe every single person on this earth deserves compassion and love. I truly do. But I can't always be "hands on" with that feeling. I just can't. I lose a huge piece of myself in the process. This is the curse I talked about earlier. I take on pain in the process of caring about them.
Some people believe in a God, the goddess, the "force", the universe, science, nothing....whatever grand designer of order or chaos in this existence you choose. Personally I've come to trust the Light, and it is pretty much God or Love. These terms are all synonymous for me. In my last therapy session, we did another imagery exercise. In this exercise I was asked to imagine myself now, me at the age of trauma (which is about 8 or 9) and God, all having a conversation together. It all sounds a little like a split personality exercise from hell, right? Well, it's not. I find myself gaining a lot of insight from these exercises. Anyway, I sat quietly in this visualization, and asked the Light to help me with this situation with the triggered PTSD I'd come to find myself in. Immediately I imagined a puzzle before me. It was explained to me that this is my puzzle. The outer edge was done, as were a few other parts of the puzzle complete, but there were still a lot of pieces left to join together. The next image was of a different puzzle that had been partially put together, but the only available pieces left for me to see were perfect circles. No matter how I try, they will never come together for me. I drive myself crazy with, and am consumed by trying to figure out just the right words or things to say to "help". It's a futile process. It doesn't work that way. But my brain has to be reminded from time to time of that, because it can feel maddening and I can forget or be convinced it's different this time. Even if I have the perfect words, actions..... Ultimately, I have no control over anything in another person's life. They do. I am not supposed to put anyone else's puzzle together, even though that's actually what I was trying to do recently even though consciously I didn't catch that. Wow. In essence, trying to "fix" the cause of my trauma so long ago. Change the outcome. But it's impossible to do that. The ONLY person who can put your puzzle together is YOU. I know this for myself, but why didn't I see what was happening? See my vulnerability to this played on right before my eyes? I guess the dark finds ways to crawl and writhe it's way back in. In insidious, cancer-like, goading and mocking ways causing emotional warfare. GTFO dark. I will no longer welcome you into my life. I'm rebuking that shit. I gotta stay positive in all things. It's literally a fight for my life.
I see it all the time. And I'm guilty too. Posts about a neglected blog. Ugh. Yes, that is what this is. Kinda.
My health is.....getting better. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome in my 20's, but was ignorant to exactly what that meant to my endocrine system until last year. The drs in my 20's said a lot about helping me through my infertility, but not much about anything else. I was given metformin at the time, but not told why, only that it would help with the cysts. It didn't agree with me, so I quit taking it. I was in my twenties and invincible after all! I could handle it! I was already on birth control pills, which did actually help, so I thought I didn't really *need* this other diarrhea-inducing horse pill, did I? Yeah, I know now I did. Because of PCOS, I've gained a significant amount of weight and have become insulin resistant. I've also suffered from depression, anxiety and isolated because of it. That means, when I had a lot of physical pain, I blamed myself and hid its severity. It is a shameful feeling like I've "allowed" myself to become so "fat" and inactive, and figured the pain was ALL my fault. At it's worst, I found a spark of light somehow though. I decided to take charge and really try to get help. It started with telling my regular doctor about the pain. All of my joints cause me pain, but my knees and low back most of all. Terrible pain. Like, scared I'm losing my mobility type of pain. He ran a battery of blood tests and ruled out lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme's and a few other things, but noticed an abnormal protein in my blood and a high SED rate. With that info, he referred me to a rheumatologist. There I was diagnosed with moderately severe osteoarthritis in both knees and moderate arthritis in my hips and back. He also told me I have fibromyalgia, which I'd suspected for several years actually. He also ran more blood work. Looking further into this abnormal protein. With those test results I was referred to a hematologist. I was so scared when I made the appointment for that....the phone was answered by the "oncology department". What?! So of course, I had to wait a month to see this hematologist (whom is also an oncologist!).... During that time, google was my worst enemy. Cancer. That's what those abnormal proteins mean. And ultimately, the answer is yes and no. I have been diagnosed with MGUS, or monoclonal gammopathy of unidentified significance. And not a lot is known about it's significance, just as the name implies! Mostly because the age of people usually diagnosed with this are at least 20 years older than I am. And they die from other causes before the MGUS turns into multiple myeloma. Tests have shown over 90% of persons developing multiple myeloma have MGUS, so it's considered pre-myeloma. But there's no known timeframe for the transformation.... It may or may not rear its ugly head. So, for the rest of my life I will need to be monitored by an oncologist and have blood work done every 6 months to see if there are changes in the condition. I've had a full body scan, and have no lesions on my bones at this time. Good news on a bad condition. So, I'm learning to cope with my physical pain. It has improved about 30% with mobic and muscle relaxers at night. Better sleep has also been helpful. A glimpse into feeling better helps my faith in.....just about everything. I pray it continues! I've also lost about 50 pounds in the last 9 months. I hope to lose enough to have it make sense to have my knees replaced. I would love to have that freedom back, even if all I can do is stand to finish a sink's worth of dishes. Something I think most people take for granted.