Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Year of Healing

My version of New Year's resolutions is One Word.  I choose one word to direct my coming year.  It's a from-the-gut choice.  I toss and turn it over in my head and heart for days or weeks, working with God to choose what I need for that year.  I've been doing it for a few years now, and it never ceases to amaze me how my year looks in retrospect wrapped in that word.

My word for 2015 was HEAL.  I went into the year not knowing how that would play out.  In most cases, I just tucked that word away in my heart and went about my life.  But once in a while something would happen and I'd notice it.  I'd notice it was an element of healing.  I was healing.

I just went back and re-read my post from the beginning of the year, when I chose this word.  I read through the list.  And I noticed things, areas of healing that had happened, that I hadn't noticed before.  I'm so grateful for that.

But, truly, the biggest change has been my body.

I've got health issues.  Nothing major, just enough to keep me from being and doing what I want.  Enough to force me to see other ways of being.  Others ways to be of value.

I started the year off very unhappy with my body.  With its size and shape.  With its open rebellion against me.  With its struggle to control me, to make me submit to its whims.  Honestly, I was frustrated that I even had to have a body, because I felt it limited me in so many ways.

But things changed.

I don't remember exactly how or when it happened.  It might have started last year.  In fact, I think it did.  Last November I decided I wanted to add some color to my hair.  Not regular color.  Purple.  And early in December, I did.  I got about six inches of the bottom of my hair bleached and dyed bright purple.  Much brighter than I'd anticipated.  And more inches than I'd planned.  (Due to my own miscommunication with my fabulous hairdresser.)  All of a sudden my hair was troll doll purple.  My Little Pony purple.  No longer subtle at all!

I'd spent years hiding in plain sight.  Trying to be subtly present in the room.  Mostly because I was very unhappy with the weight I'd gained and the way I looked.  I felt miserable and it showed.

I loved having bright hair!  It gave me such a lift.  But I wasn't prepared for how others would react to it.  Suddenly, when I walked into a room, there was no question people would be looking at me.  It often made me uncomfortable.  But I have always tried to stand behind my decisions, even if they don't seem to make any sense to anyone else.  I've tried to live by the principle that I shouldn't make any decision, take any action, that I wouldn't be okay if it were exposed to the world.  Stand behind my choices - that's me!

So I decided to embrace it.  I decided to embrace me.  I shared photos of my hair on Facebook.  It was fun seeing how it faded and sharing that, too.  But I hated pictures of my face, so it was tricky to share my hair unless I had someone else take pictures from behind.  I have lots of picture of the back and sides of my hair, with my head leaning so that my hair fell mostly in front of my face.  Because I didn't like my fat face.

Again, I don't know the exact day it happened, but I decided to stop hiding from pictures.  I decided to allow pictures of myself, even some I didn't like, to be seen.  I decided the picture was just a moment.  Even if I didn't like how I looked in that moment, I liked who I was.  And I wanted to remember that moment and have evidence of my presence.

And in the midst of this, there were other changes happening.  I was healing in other ways.  Invisible, inside ways.

In February I heard the words that changed me forever.  In February I found the key that turned off the self-harm switch inside me.  I February I gave up self-harm for good.  Something I knew I was supposed to heal, needed to heal, but didn't want to heal.  I trusted.  I was healed.

This year I came to a healthier relationship with my dad.  I found my footing.  Mostly through taking care of my mom together, he and I have found a new respect for each other.  A new gratitude for each other.  Healing

I've come to a much healthier place with my mom as well.  As she's changing, as her world is changing, I'm finding my footing there as well.  It's been a tough slog.  It's going to get tougher still.  But I understand and accept it better now.  And that helps.  I feel less burdened and more compassionate.  And I feel love toward her.  The kind of love that's been missing for a while.  A healing love.  I'm grateful for that.

But the most noticeable healing I've experienced has been physical.  At the beginning of the year, I was a slug.  I could move and get things done, but everything exhausted me.  Everything was a huge burden.  I'd do what needed to be done and head straight back to bed.  I was so tired and miserable and uncomfortable in my own body.

Again, I don't remember exactly when it happened.  But I know it started before my physical.  As I was approaching my physical, I was evaluating things and had decided I wanted to get off one of the medications I was on.  And, dang it, I wanted to talk to my doctor about losing weight.  My body wanted to move.

Now that I think about it, I think that was how it started.  My body ached.  I lay in my bed aching, and I knew it was because my body wanted to move.  And my brain wanted my body to move.  But I was so exhausted.  Completely depleted.  I had nothing more to push my body with.  Gravity was pulling so hard.

But I wanted to move.

So at my physical, I talked to my doctor.  We made a couple of medication changes.  And I made a plan.  Eat better.  Move.  That was the gist of it.  And that's what I did.  I changed how and what I ate.  And I started walking.

Since then I've walked three 5ks; I ran a little in the last one.  I've injured myself (plantar fasciitis and shin splints), because I pushed too hard too fast.  (Hopefully, I've learned something and will do better now.)  I added bodyweight exercises.  I did some yoga.  I've done some Just Dance.  A little of this, a little of that.  I shared it all on Facebook, to keep myself accountable.  Exercise is now something that's a part of my life.  Part of who I am.  Part of who I want to be.  I want to be a runner!

And, let me just tell you, those are words I never thought I'd say.  I had no intention of running.  I started out walking.  I walked and walked.  Miles and miles.  (Which in and of itself was amazing to me and everyone around me.)  It was in my last 5k, the one where I pushed my body too far and it rebelled.  The one where I ran some.

Hurting.  Crying.  My body ached.  But not because of the injury.  My body ached to run.  I ached to run.  Weird.

I'm still working toward that.  It's a two steps forward, one step back thing.  My body doesn't recover like it used to.  I can't just decide I'm going to go push it for hours and hours and not pay for it like I could in high school.  These days, the cost of pushing is a bit higher.  But not too high.  Not so high that it's not worth it.  And if I pace myself instead of diving off the cliff, which is my inclination, I can do it.  Baby steps.  I'm working on that.

Since May I've lost 33 pounds.  I've gone down a pant size.  I've lost inches here and there.  My face has thinned.  And all of that's great.  But it's not what's most important.

I feel like I've found me.  Like my body and I are working together again.  I've proven I can do this.  I'm not at complete peace about my body all the time, but I'm doing so much better.  I'm so much happier.  I feel more whole.

Like each year in the past, I will carry this word forward with me.  It will remain in my heart.  It will continue to drive me in ways I won't notice until I look back.

And I'm so excited to share my word for 2016!  But that'll be tomorrow.

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