It’s what we typically try to avoid. Every day we make decisions, we pick which roads we want to travel down, we expect the forks in the road, we expect the overgrown paths that haven’t been taken in a while. We understand when suddenly there’s dips and sharp turns, that’s how life is supposed to work. Until we realize, certain paths were mislabeled and someone forgot to throw up the “dead end” sign.
I started this year with the mantra that this year would be for Recovery.
I was clear in saying I didn’t know what “recovery” really looked like. I set out the intention of allowing myself to rediscover who I am and to essentially stop “fighting” this condition.
Which I’ve done. But, when setting my intentions, I missed something really important. I talked down on how being selfish in 2018 had hurt me. How it hadn’t accomplished what I’d wanted it to, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Being selfish kept me safe. It kept me happy. It kept me knowing that every decision I made was one made by me, for me, with my best interests in mind. And being selfish didn’t hurt those around me.
Sure, I pushed myself too hard. Sure I lost a lot of who I was last year, but that wasn’t because I’d chosen to put myself first. That’s the natural progression of this condition. That’s the natural impact of failed medication trials and accepting your body’s needs are more important than what your boss may be demanding from you.
So, in this third month of the year, my New Year’s Mantra is still going strong. I am recovering. But, in order to continue to recover I need to allow myself to be selfish again.
These past few weeks have been eye opening for me.
It never occurred to me that there were still people in my life that I was going to lose to this condition. It didn’t occur to me that I still had people around, checking in because they were using the vulnerability I put out there to hold over my head.
When I transitioned to writing my blog, I lost a lot of people. I blocked out a lot of family and a lot of friends and I did so because I knew if they couldn’t be bothered to care about this huge part of my life, they didn’t deserve to be apart of any of it.
I missed some people.
I missed the guy who checked in occasionally to hear how I was doing, just so he could assert that he was a part of my life. I missed that he was sharing his “pain” with me as a way to guilt me into sticking around. I missed the fact that I was being treated like a “token”. Until I finally gave in and stood up for myself and the way I was treated. And suddenly people I didn’t even know came out of all sorts of nooks and crannies and I realized I’m back in this town full of people who don’t know me but are still stuck on something they heard from the brief time I went to high school here.
And so, it finally clicked. Why am I wasting my time sharing so much information with so many people who would rather hold it over my head than help me spread the information and make a positive impact? So, I went through, and like I did when I started my blog, I removed a huge portion of people. People who I don’t believe care in the slightest and certainly have no business interacting with me.
It felt good. But it also hurt like hell. Realizing you live in a place where you may or may not have even bothered to make any real friends? Realizing the “friends” you did have were long swept away because of rumors and circumstances that existed long before I even moved here. Realizing some people got cut out too hastily and that even though they don’t express verbal support, there’s no reason to throw them under the bus because of association.
I thought that would be it. I thought I’d cleaned up enough.
Until I realized my own best friend thought that every word that gets jotted down, every mention of this condition, every exciting new accomplishment or occurrence of my piece being featured somewhere… was a joke.
Someone who meant the whole wide world to me didn’t even bat an eye as his friends did everything they could to dismantle and discredit my work. He laughed it off. He said it wasn’t serious. Some friend.
Except, it resulted in serious damage. My links were temporarily blocked. My support that I’d worked months to acquire, gone. This blog flat-lined.
It felt like I flat-lined.
Hell, I don’t actually know what it felt like, because there really isn’t a word to describe losing someone in that way after them being a constant part of your life for almost 10 years.
But, I did a lot more cleaning.
I deleted old accounts and made new ones. My personal Instagram is much more enjoyable and I now have a separate space that is completely blog and migraine related. Those world’s don’t have to cross.
You see, I stopped being selfish and it made me question everything. I questioned why I was writing. Why I had ever started. Why I bothered sharing any of my work. Why I should continue if people still thought so poorly of me. Why anything I did mattered.
And that’s a really low place to be when you’re only means of escaping it all is writing… I can’t run off to work, I can’t pick up extra shifts. I can’t bury myself in schoolwork. I can’t get rip-roaring drunk at the bar.
It took a wonderful friend and mentor to really help me get back on my feet. Meaghan made it clear that I had to focus on myself. That it isn’t selfish, that I need to be centered on myself. That the validation that exists needs to come from myself, not anyone else. That “negativity is like black ink in water and it just disperses easily, we can control how it disperses and treat it like oil in water”
And she’s right. I watched my blog flat-line and I felt destroyed. It didn’t matter how many countless individuals were “on my side” or defending me. It didn’t matter who stood up and encouraged me to keep writing. It didn’t matter that in that same day, I had another piece published and a special offer come in to participate in a huge email endeavor.
But, her words. They stuck. They reminded me that last year I was selfish and I chose to be selfish for a really damn good reason. It kept me safe. It kept me on track and most importantly, it kept me true to myself.
And so I stepped back.
I let 2011 Kelly Clarkson scream into my ear…
I forgive you, I forgive me
Now When do I start to feel again
… But I’ll be back with a brand new attitude
Cause I forgive you.
I did something new with the Mighty email CheckInWithMe campaign. I took my break from Instagram and started fresh with new faces and a new approach. I started working towards laying out my book. I dug to find inspiration from those around me, to answer the questions people were actually asking.
And suddenly, I’m realizing I don’t care if a single person clicks on my blog. I don’t care if a post totally flops. Because, I’m not writing this for you. I’m writing this for me.
When I share my inspirational morning posts on Instagram, I don’t care if anyone responds or resonates with what I’ve said. That inspiration is for me to look back on.
In this past week, I’ve started a gratitude journal to help change my perceptions, because we can be as optimistic as we want, it’ll never be enough. I reached over 180,000 people and spent days responding to those who were touched by what I had to say. I allowed hundreds of people to express a positive aspect of their life, despite their condition. I participated in a Mighty challenge to help get more people signed up, and won – which means that even though no one acknowledged my “hey go sign up for this” they still did, and I’ve got myself a new sweatshirt. I took time to acknowledge the people who have inspired me and put a smile on their face. I responded to people I haven’t spoken to in years and connected to so many more without feeling guilty. I put out less content and didn’t promote my blog, but suddenly had over 100 new clicks a day and a feature on a blog I’d never encountered.
Most importantly, I cut off 10-11 inches of dead weight. 3 years of exhausting history.
And I feel great.
Here’s to reminding myself that it isn’t wrong to be selfish. Being centered on myself allows what I have left over to give to overflow and touch the lives of those who actually want to be here. Being centered on myself is the only real way I can focus on truly allowing my mind and my body to recover. Because with recovery, comes growth.
So thank you Kelly Clarkson. Thank you Meaghan. And thank you to myself, because I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere.