Coffee ice cream is my kryptonite. If it’s in my house, I will eat it. In fact, that’s probably all I will eat. Even if it’s breakfast time.
Because of that, I try not to have it in the house very often. Dear husband knows not to bring any home unless I ask for it. Because the post-coffee-ice-cream guilt and depression is no fun at all.
Once upon a time, though, I was in a very unhealthy relationship, and he started bringing home pints of ice cream for me every single day. I never asked for them. It wasn’t a household habit. In fact, I begged him to stop. And yet the ice cream kept coming. It made no sense.
I did eat a lot of ice cream for a time there, and then one day I figured out what was going on. I don’t know if this was a conscious thought process on his part, or just his default passive-aggressive coping mechanism at play, but the fact was, we were in a bad place, and one twisted way to keep me in the relationship was to destroy my self-esteem by getting me to become fatter and fatter and fatter. If I was depressed and miserable, I wouldn’t have the energy to change my life, and I certainly wouldn’t find someone else.
At some point, I gave up trying to convince him to stop bringing home the ice cream. The crux of our problem was that he never listened to anything I said. So I was forced to take matters into my own hands. I’d just wait until he left the house, and then I’d take the lid off the ice cream and turn it over in the sink and let it melt down the drain.
Eventually, there were just too many examples of how he did not support my dreams and goals, and did not have my best interests at heart. He did not want good things for me. He just wanted me to stay right where I was and never change, so he could have the unambitious, never-changing life that he craved, and in fact still lives.
When I look back at that period of my life, I get really angry at myself for having stayed as long as I did. Now I know that one of the most important things to do in life is to surround yourself with people who want to lift you up, not hold you down. Those people who encourage you to educate yourself and push past your boundaries and experience the world are the keepers. I should have been taught this in childhood. But no.
I’m really happy to say that I’m in that beautiful place now, a place where I’m encouraged to fly. I’ll make a point to never find myself elsewhere, ever again.
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If you’re feeling anxious or insecure or overwhelmed or defeated or even afraid, that’s entirely understandable. Life can be hard, and everyone, every single person on this planet, has experienced those feelings at one time or another. I guarantee that there are thousands of people out there who are in the exact same boat right this very minute. You are not alone.
But you know what? You got this. You know how I know? Because here you are. You’ve made it this far, despite all the odds.
You have survived every single thing that has been thrown at you your entire life. Just surviving your own birth is a major hurdle. Not only did you do that, but you have made it through illness and heartbreak and failure and cruelty and bad decisions. You’ve eaten things that weren’t particularly good for you, and no doubt you’ve drunk things that were even worse. You’ve hurt yourself and been hurt. You were picked on in school, and you’ve been treated unfairly at work. And yet, here you are. Still standing.
You are freakin’ awesome. You know how to take care of yourself. Your brains and your ingenuity have gotten you this far. You haven’t given up. You have absolutely every reason to have faith in yourself, because you can stand in front of a mirror, and… look! There you are! You got yourself here. You.
That’s pretty amazing, don’t you think? Dang, but you’re good! So keep up the good work! You can do it!
As strange as it may seem, it took me years to figure out that I should only surround myself with kind, loving, and decent people. No one ever told me that. I think deep down, had the concept even occurred to the younger me, I wouldn’t have really believed I deserved it.
So I wasted a lot of time desperately trying to gain approval from people who were way too busy pumping toxic waste into my life to ever grant said approval. What a shame.
But slowly, ever so slowly, the number of amazing humans in my world started to outnumber the bad apples. That made that rotten fruit seem increasingly unpalatable to me. I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to expect quality in all my relationships. What a notion.
It’s so wonderful to know so many outstanding people now. It’s a gift. It’s priceless. Sometimes it brings tears of joy to my eyes.
But recently I’ve come to see what it would have been like if I had kept my emotional garden free of weeds and decay all along. My boyfriend seems to have done an excellent job of doing so, and the results have been profoundly positive. There is so much good in his world. It’s one of the many things I admire about him. He is a lodestone for kindness.
Recently we announced our engagement, and the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming. In the best possible way. This is all new to me. I keep telling him I feel like I’m being love bombed. He reassures me that I’m not joining a cult. Receiving this kind of encouragement is just as it should be.
Well, alrighty then! I’ll take it. Please and thank you!
In case no one ever told you, dear reader: Look for the good in the world. Accept nothing less. You’ll be amazed at how much it multiplies. Proof positive that love conquers all.
A friend of mine was having a really bad day at work. She called me up to vent and to get a pep talk. “You got this,” I said. “Breathe,” I said. “You are one of the most capable and intelligent people I know, and you love your job. If anyone can fix this situation, it’s you.”
I’ve always been a good pep talker. It’s second nature to me. But someone recently pointed out to me that that is not the case for everyone.
I should know that. It’s why I honed the craft in the first place.
I grew up in an emotionally barren landscape. My mother was so depressed and overwhelmed that I was often the very last thing on her mind. She was never abusive. I always had a roof (such as it was) over my head, and food in my belly. She emphasized the importance of education. But I was so starved for love and affection that I’m amazed my heart didn’t atrophy. More than anything, I just wanted to be seen.
Because of that, I spent a great deal of time inside my head in a world of my own making, where people said things to me that I desperately wanted to hear. “You’re going to be just fine.” “I’m proud of you.” “You are a loveable person.” “I have faith in you.” “You can do it!”
So now, when I see that someone is at a low point, I simply tell them what I’d most like to hear if I were to find myself in a similar situation. It’s easy.
So why doesn’t everyone do this? The world would be a much nicer place if they did. But there are a few preliminary steps that you have to take to get to that point, I suppose:
Being empathetic enough to realize when someone is going through a rough patch.
Having the confidence to know that an encouraging word from you would be helpful and appreciated.
Having the generosity of spirit to feel that this is an effort worth making.
Being capable of picking up on social cues.
Sincerely caring about others.
Having a genuine belief that people are capable of more than they give themselves credit for, and the ability to creatively articulate that at a moment’s notice.
Pulling your head out of your own butt long enough to see what’s going on around you.
Help raise someone up today! Can you do it? Yes! I have faith in you!
I suspect no one has ever told you this, so I figured I would. You are already enough. You were just who you were supposed to be on the day you were born.
I don’t know why people find it so hard to give compliments or encouragement. I really don’t know why so many people delight in being cruel or insulting. But the fact remains. You are enough.
Having ambition and wanting to improve upon yourself isn’t a bad thing, of course. Go for it! But set aside any anxiety you have that is causing you to try to force yourself into a role that makes you uncomfortable. Nobody has the right to pressure you to become someone that you’re not. Deep down, you already know who you are.
Just be yourself. You are one of a kind. Sit in that power. And before you know it (but only if you need to), you will bloom. You have that within you, and chances are, a lot of people already see it, whether they bother to tell you or not.
Now, share this post with someone else who needs to hear it.
I love having friends that are much younger than I am because I get to watch them do amazing things and feel the subsequent joy from that without having to actually expend any energy myself. I can gaze on proudly as they start new businesses, fight for causes, create amazing works of art, raise incredible children, and show enormous integrity, all from the comfort of my recliner, preferably while cozily ensconced in flannel and bunny slippers.
I’m told I’m very encouraging and supportive. Heck yeah! Encouragement and support expend nary a calorie, and yet they yield amazing results. They cause people to lend even more effort to their positive causes. They give them the courage to reach even higher heights. And they tend to generate a great deal of good will.
In this world, with its rising tide of negativity, it’s the very least I can do, after all. Go, team, go!
Today this blog made me cry. It wasn’t the first time. I’m sure it won’t be the last.
So far it’s always been happy tears, thank goodness. (I’m waiting for the day that my writer’s block is so overwhelming that I shed tears of sheer frustration, but so far I’ve been lucky.) Still, I never thought this humble project of mine would bring out such strong emotion in me. Had I known, I might have been too intimidated to start. But I’m so glad I did.
This time, the reason for my tears was a comment from a girl named April. She read one of my more popular blog entries, Why I Hate Alcohol. Then she commented in great detail about how it impacted her.
Discovering that something I wrote has helped someone, or made them look at things from a different angle, or taught someone something they didn’t know, never fails to move me. Sometimes I sit up here on my lonely little drawbridge and I write these things and it almost feels as if I’m putting messages in bottles and throwing them in the ocean. That these messages sometimes reach someone’s shore is gratifying beyond words.
Because of this blog, I’ve also made some amazing friends. Art, Carole, Anju, Sonia, Tony, Lyn, Valarie… so many more I couldn’t list them all, but each one an amazing person that wouldn’t have come into my life without this forum. And then there are the many friends I’ve met in other ways who have followed this blog and given me feedback and support. There’s nothing more wonderful than getting positive encouragement from someone you admire.
I’ve also learned a great deal. I’ve explored topics I wouldn’t have bothered to delve into if I didn’t think I’d have some reader to share them with. I’ve introduced myself, and you, to people I would not have discovered otherwise.
I’ve exorcised a number of personal demons, celebrated a number of victories, shared perhaps more than I should have, and wondered about any number of things. And I’ve improved my writing skills. Those are things I knew I would do. What I didn’t know was that having people actually read what I write has added a whole new dimension. You’ve validated, supported, and commiserated with me. You’ve given me wings.
So my message in the bottle for today is: Thank you. Thank you so much.