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There you are

2 Sep
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About a year ago, I was living in Amarillo and I was miserable.  I hated my job.  HATED it.  I was struggling to deal with life, but I was sure it was because my stress level was through the roof.  When I had a good opportunity to get out, I took it.  And when I told my mom that I was headed back to Corpus Christi, she annoyingly reminded me that “where you go, there you are.”  (you were right, OK mom)

Being back in CC has been interesting.  It’s kind of forced me to face some things and has given me the opportunity for clarity.  I recently started paying attention to my Facebook memories which go back to 2009.  It’s fascinating because it has allowed me to see a pattern that I wouldn’t have found any other way.  For 4 years in a row, at almost the exact same time of year, I was going through the same thing.  I was devastated and heartbroken over choices my ex-husband made and I was determined to take control of my life.  Determined to get to a healthier place and be happy.  And yet, by that time next year, I found myself in the same spot…  Even after I had been divorced for 9 months!!!

I couldn’t help but look at that and wonder, why?  WHY???  And how on Earth could I keep it from ever, ever, ever happening again.

Around 5 months ago, I wrote about how I was falling in love. About six weeks later, we had broken up. And I was miserable. Instead of going on a camping trip in Utah with his family, I spent a week in Amarillo mostly alone. I had a ton of time to reflect and it became clear to me that I needed some help.

The fact is that the more I felt myself falling in love, the more I fortified this wall inside of me.  My fear of being hurt was so great that any means of protection was easily justified.  I found myself looking for reasons it wouldn’t work.  I found myself creating problems, starting arguments, setting him up to say something I could take offense to.  It was a disaster waiting to happen and eventually it did.

At the time, I was all righteous indignation.  I am willing to admit that I was unfair.  The way I portrayed the breakup to my friends and family made it easy for me to justify.  But soon I felt that I was being dishonest with myself.  I started amending my words and I started reconsidering my judgment.  And I realized that I had been in the wrong.

I made a stunning discovery.  I realized that I had pushed away every man who I had ever loved.  For as long as I could remember.  I would push them away, regret it and then try to get them back.  I had repeated the same cycle over and over again and somehow not realized it.  And realizing that made me have to swallow a bitter pill and admit that this cycle played a major part in the destruction of my marriage.

I was aware that I had some issues to work though before I could have a healthy relationship again, which is why I purposely stayed single for two years.  But this new realization opened a door for me, and gave me the final push I needed to really start working on healing.

I’ve been in counseling (weekly) for the past three months.  I was ready to do the hard work that is necessary for it to really help you, and we have accomplished so much in that time.  I’ve come to better understand why I resort to such destructive means to soothe and comfort myself.  I’ve realized my greatest fears about relationships/love are actually of myself.  I understand why I’ve tried to find other people who would save me.  But more than anything, I’m learning how to heal myself.

Because, truly, I am the only one who can.

Yes, I need help from Heavenly Father and I need to access the atonement, but no one else can do the work for me.  No one else can make me feel whole and healed.

I’m not going to say that I am fixed.  All of us are lifelong works in progress, but I have been waiting to feel this peace within myself for many years.  I’ve watched myself repeat choices and patterns over and over again, all along wanting to change, but not knowing how.  It feels amazing to know how to change my path, to have a plan to survive crisis.  The hope is incredible.

I’ve shared so much of my struggle here over the years.  Feels pretty good to share some success. ❤

I want to see you be brave.

26 Jun

IMG_4916The quote pictured above is actually supposed to say “Speak the truth even if your voice shakes,” but I’m only interested in speaking my truth.  That’s why I changed it to read, “Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.”

There was a time in my life, early 20’s, that I felt like I had to shout my beliefs to the world.  I felt that I had something to prove.  I thought I knew it all…  I look back at myself and shake my head.  I was a total idiot who knew nothing.  And no one gave a crap about what I had to say.  The more I tried to assert myself, the worse I felt, the more people I alienated.  And the more I experienced, the less I felt like I understood the world…  The less I understood about myself.

The past 5 years of my life have humbled me.  I found myself in a place where I had to admit that I didn’t know much of anything.  So I kept my mouth shut and I observed.  I listened.  I started from the most basic questions in life and pondered, prayed, and studied until I felt sure.  Some things I still don’t feel sure about and that’s okay.  I don’t have to know exactly what I believe about everything.

I’m grateful for my education and my life experiences.  I’m grateful for my faith and spirituality.  These things have brought me to a point in my life where I feel like I know mostly what I believe about the world.  They’ve also taught me to be open to learning and changing.  But I have been afraid to share.  Afraid to alienate people, afraid to offend people, afraid to be wrong, and afraid that I would be alone.  But I’m not alone.  And that’s exactly why I’m taking a brave step today.  I want others to know they aren’t the only ones who feel this way.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of my personal beliefs, just the ones that I think I need to share at this time-

  1. I believe I should live and let live. Of course, I don’t want anyone to tell me what I can and cannot believe.  I don’t want anyone to interfere with the way I live my life.  I don’t want to be judged for my beliefs.  And thus, I can’t rightfully want to do the same to anyone else.  You and I don’t have to agree.  I’m going to respect you anyway.
  2. I believe in the Constitution of the United States.  I remember my US History teacher in high school.  I remember learning about the Constitution and realizing just how amazing the document was.  I believe in the rights it protects and I believe that all men are created equal.  I believe that the Constitution supports civil rights movements.  I believe it supports equal freedoms for us all regardless of race, sex, ability, sexual-orientation, age, class, etc.  I also believe that our Constitution protects freedom of religion and I think that allows churches to decide what they will or won’t do in certain circumstances.  I also believe in freedom of speech.
  3. I believe in love.  I don’t know how else to put it.  In every lens that I look at this life with, I see that love is critical to our survival.
  4. I believe in the value of human life.  I believe that we are all brothers and sisters.  Every single one of us has value.  We are all flawed.  Every last one of us.  Some of our brothers and sisters can’t or don’t see the value of human life and they make self-centered decisions to hate/harm/kill others.  But if we turn around and perpetuate their hate, we are only moving their cause forward.  The only way to combat hate is with love.

You might call me an idealist.  You might call me naive.  You might call me liberal.  You might call me stupid.  I might agree with you.  I might disagree with you.  I will definitely respect your right to your own opinion.  You might say that I’m not really saying anything at all, so let me be clear:

Racism is still a problem.  I’m glad that same-sex marriage is now legal, but I’m also glad that as of now churches have the right to decide whether or not they will perform those marriages.  I will fight for it to stay that way.  I personally would not seek an abortion, but I’m not about to tell someone else what they can or cannot do with their body.  I believe that we will be judged for our actions and that it is not our responsibility to decide what each other is doing is right/wrong.  I believe that we are responsible for ourselves.  I think we can and should focus on our communities and be of service to those around us.  I choose to use my example as an influence.  I choose love over hate.

If you disagree, I’m cool with that.  I might unfollow your posts on Facebook, but I’ll love you just the same.

Fear

18 Feb
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via Pinterest

Food for thought, Brandi.

2015

1 Jan

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions in the traditional sense. Gave that up years ago. They were always flimsy and fleeting and it felt a little silly to think I was magically going to turn it all around just because it was a new year.

For the past few years, I’ve joined in with others and chosen one word as a theme for the year. The idea is to drop the long list of challenges you want to overcome and instead focus your energy on a singular idea.

I’ve been thinking about my word for several weeks now, and thought I knew my word up until this morning. I woke up with a new word on my heart and it felt right. So, without further adieu…

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Try a little harder to be a little better. -Gordon B. Hinckley

Those who know me well know that I am on a perpetual journey of self-improvement. They also know that I am impatient with myself and can be very hard on myself. So they may be wondering how this word is different from every other day or my life.

I chose the word better because it symbolizes a more realistic expectation of myself. It’s about acknowledging small successes and finding joy in moving forward. It’s about self-love and self-acceptance.

It’s also about believing I deserve better. I often settle for what I think I deserve, but I’m slowly learning that I am worth more than I perceive.

2014 was good, but 2015 will be better.

Good at Goodbye

5 Oct

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Almost exactly 3 years after I left Corpus Christi, I will be returning there to live. Yes, I don’t quite believe it myself. I’m pretty sure I said never more than once in reference to this possibility.

But here I am.

I originally moved to Corpus Christi in early 2001. I had been battling depression and left college to live with my mom and get help. I ended up getting my first real job there, graduating college there, and eventually meeting and marrying my now ex-husband there. It was our divorce that made me run as far away from Corpus Christi as I could back in 2011.

When I left Corpus Christi, I was someone I don’t recognize today. The first two years in Lubbock helped me get on my feet and pointed me in the right direction. The past year in Amarillo has led to the greatest personal growth in my life.

While I’ve loved Amarillo for its people and weather and natural beauty, I’ve hated my job. There’s nothing wrong with the company. I’ve worked hard and we have been successful. Recruiting is just not for me.

I’ve been praying for a way to shift to a less stressful career without losing the ability to provide for myself. I want energy and time to devote to the more important things in life.

He provides.

My former boss in Corpus Christi reached out to me last week and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. It’s exactly what I was hoping for. But the job isn’t the only reason I’m going…

I will be close to my sisters. I will be able rejoin Twisted Sisters, the crochet business my sister and I started several years ago. I can get involved with GROW Local South Texas and the Downtown Farmer’s Market. I will be able to reconnect with old friends. These are all factors that helped me decide, but it wasn’t easy.

As many times as I’ve said it, I am still not good at goodbye. I’ve cried everyday since I made the decision. There are people here and in Lubbock that I don’t want to be that far from. I don’t want to leave my ward or my callings. I’m so sad about it. And I absolutely despise packing.

I have felt a little foolish for heading back to a place I lived just 3 years ago, but I’m coming back a much stronger person. I needed this time to find myself and progress. I needed to heal, and I did.  I needed to let go, and I did.

I’m looking forward to what the future holds!

All By Myself

8 Jun

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It’s been one of those weekends. Storms have been raging all around me and it’s left me with more time to think than I prefer.

Early Friday morning, I was awakened by the sound of tornado sirens. When I went to bed the night before, there was a chance of rain but not even a tornado watch. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on, but when I did, I went into a full-blown panic.

After stumbling around in circles in the dark, I grabbed my dogs, my cell phone and some pillows and blankets and ducked into my closet. I kept thinking that I wished I weren’t alone.

In the closet, I prayed until my heart slowed down and then messaged a good friend. It wasn’t until she sent me some reassuring words that I felt safe.

Friday evening, during a break between storms, I ventured out to get some water and dinner. As I reached the checkout, I heard it start pouring again. After a brief debate, I pulled my keys out of my pocket so they would be ready and ran for it.

Bad idea. The parking lot was already a raging river. The wind and rain were blowing directly into my face. Within seconds, I couldn’t see, was having trouble breathing, and in danger of losing my flip flops.

But I pressed forward and make it to the car. When I got inside, I realized that while I had my key ring, my car key had broken off.

I wish someone had recorded the scene because my glasses were soaked in rain and I had nothing to dry them with. I finally took them off which was better but not really. After not finding the key in the car, I had to call a friend to save me.

I was really upset that I had to interrupt her date night to once again be a damsel in distress. At the same time, I was incredible grateful and relieved to have the help.

(P.S. After the rain died down, we found the key right outside the driver side door on the ground. Talk about a miracle!!)

I have spent the rest of the weekend holed up in my apartment because I’m not feeling well and the weather is stormy. It’s a lot like my disposition.

Why am I having such a hard time being alone. Sometimes I feel like Heavenly Father wants me to need other people more, and yet He also wants me to be alone. I feel like I’m being prepared for something, but I don’t even want to consider what that is.

I’m not ready to be okay with not finding my eternal partner in this life. I’m trying to actively work on making that happen without just taking up the next eligible bachelor who shows interest.

I’m confused. But life goes on and I’m going with it. All I can do is keep living and working on being worthy.

Real

5 Nov

2013-08-11 08.08.29

 

My eyes are tired most of the time these days.

But I wear them with a sense of pride.

I worked hard to be where I am.  It’s not where I ever meant or planned to be, and yet it is.

I am.

2 Jun

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For those of you who don’t know, I’d like to officially proclaim that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  In other words, I am a Mormon.

I converted in late 2009, but had two periods of inactivity during my first separation and then divorce.  In fact, I’m pretty sure if you added up all the months since I was baptized, I’ve been inactive longer than I’ve been active.

About a year ago, I guess my files were finally transferred and I met some sisters who came to visit me and then my VT companion.  Over time, their kindness and concern softened my heart.  The desire to live the gospel stirred in me once more.

I knew I still believed the church was true.  I could still feel the truth of everything I’d learned in my heart.  I knew I had a Heavenly Father and that Jesus gave his life for me.  I just felt that in my hurt and confusion, I had strayed too far from the path.  I had behaved like a child, self-centered and emotionally immature.  How could I ever overcome the damage I, myself had inflicted upon my life?

I had a desire to return to church, but I was afraid.  What would people think of my divorce? What if no one liked me?  Would it feel the same as I did in my old Ward?  I realize now that these were silly worries, but at the time it was just enough to keep me from making that step.  I finally got the courage to ask for help.  I told the sisters that I really wanted to go to church, but that I knew I’d never go alone.  That was in January, and I guess the rest is history!

I met with the Bishop not long after General Conference to discuss repentance.  Best decision I’ve ever made.  That process has changed my life in a way that I didn’t even imagine possible.  I know now that I’ve been forgiven of my sins, that my Heavenly Father loves me, and it’s given me greater hope than I’ve ever known.

I was called about a month ago as Ward Missionary.  I love it.  The happiness I feel when I get to talk about the Gospel is overwhelming.  I feel useful.  It forces me to focus on others and I don’t have time to be lonely or wish for things I don’t have.  I pray that I will be able to help others like the sisters helped me.

I love my Ward family.  Everyone I’ve met has been so kind and welcoming to me.  I don’t know why I was ever worried about it.  I’m so grateful for the divinely inspired organization of the church.  I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to partake of the sacrament every week to renew my covenants.

Mostly I’m grateful for my trials.  I know they are teaching me everything that I need to know.  They are making me stronger and wiser.  I pray that I will keep that in mind when hardship comes back around.  I’m not promised a perfect life, I will be tried, but with faith I will make it though the storm.

Darkness Within

25 Apr

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I was first diagnosed with depression and prescribed anti-depressants toward the end of my Sophomore year of college.

I had gone to the Doctor complaining of always being tired and after some questioning, he decided I was depressed.  I didn’t take it very seriously.  I took the medication for about a month and when I didn’t feel any different, stopped taking them.

Less than a year later, I had to withdraw from school and move to Corpus Christi because I was suicidal.

I spent the next year in therapy.  I worked hard to get to a good place without the use of anti-depressants.  I really thought there was no way I’d ever find myself in such a state again.  While I’ve never found myself in that kind of suicidal state again, I’ve struggled off and on with a deep depression and the struggle of what is the root cause of these issues.

For me, depression really isn’t about sadness.  I would describe it as a numbness.  Over the years, I’ve found that a period of depression usually comes when I’ve experienced a very stressful situation or prolonged periods of anxiety.  It’s more like being completely overwhelmed and my emotions shutting down.  I withdraw from interactions with family and friends.  I become unproductive because I have no drive or energy.  All the while, I’m aware that this is happening, want it to change, and feel like a bit of a prisoner within myself.

It takes time and effort to overcome those periods of depression.  I’ve tried numerous anti-depressants over the years and I’ve yet to find one I like.  What I’ve found that helps more than anything revolves around my spirituality.  Being involved in my church and everything that entails brings the swiftest relief I’ve found, but it still takes time and effort.

I’ve been struggling lately.  The past few weeks were the worst of it, but thankfully I seem to be crawling out of my dark place.  I don’t understand exactly what the root cause is, but I’m grateful I know how to combat it.

Single

17 Apr
Image Source: someecards.com

Image Source: someecards.com

A little over a month ago, I posted about my plan to stay single for a while. After a few less than stellar dating experiences since my divorce, I feel like it’s probably a good idea to just focus on myself for some time.

The first week or so was pretty amazing. I felt really peaceful and hopeful.

Then all of the guys started coming out of the woodwork. I mean, it is actually comical. I make the decision to stop dating and all of a sudden I’ve got 3 men after me… I’m sure it’s not a coincidence.

Two of these guys I previously dated, another is an old friend. I’ve been turning them down, but it seems like they just aren’t getting the picture.

I know I’m being tested. None of these are viable options for me and I know that, but it’s still a temptation. I’d rather not be alone, but I know it’s what I need.

I’m gonna stick it out.