My joys are many, and my regrets very few.

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”

~Malcolm S. Forbes~

It’s funny how a simple, harmless conversation with a friend can sometimes spark unintentional deep thought and introspection.  In between bouts of hysterical laughing (I’m certain at the expense of someone NOT present in said conversation) there tends to be more serious  not-as-comical conversation about life and its many adventures.  During one particular conversation last evening, a gentleman friend of mine very bluntly stated that  I, uh, I mean, people “need to just chill out and be who you are supposed to be.  Stop worrying about everything you can’t do and be proud of what you can.  No one should have to make themselves become something different to make anyone else happy.”  While our conversation wasn’t about anything in particular–(read–I was NOT complaining about my ex and how I wasn’t good enough.  No, honestly, I wasn’t… haha) it actually opened up a sore spot within me.  He has no idea that he even started me thinking–which is probably a good thing because if he did he would never let me forget that he had a meaningful thought process.  :/

This sore spot has been around for many, many, many years.  I  have to believe it began in high school, as that is the first time I can recall feeling inadequate.  I remember having visited my mother one summer and for whatever reason, I ballooned up in weight.  I was a cross-country runner, so this was a huge no-no.  I think the weight came about because a lot of my interaction with my mother had to do with food while I was there, and even after I left.  She would send me ‘care packages’ when I returned home– full of my favorite bags of potato chips from her area.   I began to eat.  And eat.  And eat.  I would eat until I threw up.  Over and over I would do this.  When I ran out of stuff from her, I’d ride my bike 3 miles to the nearest store that sold junk food and buy myself bag after bag of garbage.  And I would eat.  And eat.  And eat some more.  And then I’d throw up.  It got to the point that I got so grossed out by all the junk food (even though I’d just throw it all up anyway) that I’d make myself run.  So, now, I’ve ridden my bike about 6 miles (to get the food), eaten it all and thrown up (leaving my stomach empty), and now I’m out running.  It’s no wonder I went from 150 lbs to 117 in a matter of 3 months.  I can see that today, but back then?  I was certain it was because I was throwing up.  Hence my five-year battle with bulimia and binge eating began.

I look at myself in pictures from back then, and while, yes, I was  ‘pretty’, I looked sickly.  There was NOTHING to my body.  I was simply skin and bones.  I remember by my senior year, I had gotten down as far as 110 lbs, and being 5’7″, it is not a stretch to say that my rib cage protruded further than my boobage.  Bracelets fell off my wrists… rings slid off my fingers..  I was too skinny.  And yet, I believed I was still too fat because I couldn’t get a boyfriend, or I wasn’t part of the ‘popular’ crowd.  If I was skinnier, I’d run faster.   I suppose it didn’t help that my senior year was my best ever in Cross Country–I even placed in a championship race!   It never occurred to me that I was attempting to be what I thought others wanted me to be.  I just believed if I could be something different that what I was– I’d find happiness.

Fast forward to present day, and I still haven’t found that elusive happiness.  I keep blaming it on life– life dealt me some crappy cards, and because of it, I’m barely getting through each day.  I had to stop running due to injuries to my hips (Bursitis in both joints.. OUCHIE!!) and, therefore, my weight crept on.  I left New Jersey, my family and friends, and a job I loved to move to New York to be with the man in whom I believed I was in love, and end up a single mother of 3 children in a state I do not particularly enjoy and unable to return to the place that makes me feel whole.  My regrets are many, and my joys very few.  It is time to reverse that statement.

My joys are many, and my regrets very few.

The question begs, however, HOW do I do this?  HOW do I reverse the beliefs that have defined my being for more than half of my life?  Where do I even begin to undo all of the damage that life did NOT do to me, but rather, *I* did to myself?  Am I crazy to even attempt such a seemingly unwinnable battle?  Will I sink even further into depression rather than unveil that happiness I so desire?  I suppose the only reasonable answer to these questions is…… I really don’t know.

I know that the opening quote suits me quite well.  I DO spend an awful long time focusing on what I am not.  I DO NOT give myself credit for all that I am.  Again, I need to reverse those things.  So, in an effort to begin just that, I am going to start a list of things at which I AM capable and good, and of the things I like about myself.

  • Being a mommy.
    • Certainly I am not the best, but I am far from the worst.  I am so proud of my children and who they are becoming.  They are talented, extremely intelligent, unbelievably adorable (Biased?  absolutely.  True? Also absolutely.), crazy, moody, caring, empathetic, sensitive, inquisitive, and capable of creating more laundry then I ever thought possible among other things.   They are, without a doubt, the reason I am alive today.  I am so very blessed to be their mother, and, even though I am no longer with their father, I know if I had NOT made the choices I did back then, I would not have these exact three children.  So, for that fact alone, I am thankful to him for making me their mommy.
  • Ability to learn and absorb information.
    • I am always reading.  I love to learn new things.  I am actually excited to (hopefully) be attending a training seminar for work (Information Technology).  I like to try new methods of doing things–such as cooking.  I am attempting to learn about different faiths and spiritualities.  I’m exploring a different way of nourishing my body and I’m intrigued at how it is responding, and, therefore, am researching different foods and their impact on the human body.  Science excites me.  Technology excites me.  People excite me.  Nature excites me.
  • Ability to cook.
    • I’m not a 5 star chef or anything, but I am pretty good at creating some palatable meals!  I like to take on new recipes… new ingredients… flavors I’d never imagine trying before.  I make a kick-ass chicken noodle soup from scratch using a whole chicken and cooking it for hours.  I ‘cook a good pig’ according to my 7-year-old twins.  I have had numerous requests for my ‘Ethnic Food’ or, as we normal people call them.. enchiladas.  I’ve recently ventured into new territory with clean eating and juicing.  I’m still learning, though, and some of my creations are, uh, interesting?  But, the fact remains… I’m a pretty darn good cook.  Now, ask me to bake something?  Yeah.. not happening.
  • Seeing the good in others.
    • Sure, this happens to get me into a lot of trouble at times, because, I tend to see ONLY the good and not the blazing red flags staring at me ready to slap me upside my head.. but, hey, I still think it’s a good quality.  I do not wish to change it, actually.  I believe that the minute you allow yourself to see the bad in someone right off the bat, you lose your opportunity to meet some truly amazing individuals.  First impressions do make a huge impact, but in my eyes, they’re nothing more than impressions.  I do not judge people because I am the LAST one that should be doing so.  I give everyone the same opportunity to enter my life– and until my trust is broken, or my impression flawed, I consider them a contributing part of my existence.  I get chastised for this trait.  I’m told I give too many people the benefit of doubt that do not deserve it.
  • I’m very trusting.
    • Again, another thing about which I get chastised.  I suppose it could appear to some that I am gullible.  And, perhaps, I am.  I trust implicitly unless given a reason not to.  I want people to trust me, and in exchange for that, I must trust them.  At least that is how I think.  I know that I’m risking getting the proverbial screw over….. and I know that I’m inviting heartbreak into my life…. but I simply cannot change this part of my personality.  No.  Scratch that.  I WILL not change this part of my personality.  I love this part of me.  I love that I am able to trust people regardless of how many times I’ve been hurt, disillusioned, or betrayed.
  • I have amazing friends, and in return, I am a great friend to them.
    • I listen.  I laugh.  I advise.  I feed.  I comfort.  I share in joys and sorrows.  We have created a lifetime of memories.  My friends are my better halves.   When we are together, I am unstoppable.  I have few friends, but the ones with which I choose to keep close I am inseparable.  It makes no difference if they live 5 minutes from me or 5 hours.  My best friends in the world are my best friends wherever I happen to be.  I wouldn’t be near as sane as I am today without them.  Lorraine, Kelly, Mike, Chris, Steve, Amanda, Eric, Kevin, Lisa, Jessica, Rob– You all know I’d do whatever I could, whenever I could, wherever I could to help you out if you asked….  Thank you for always doing the same for me, and for bringing me out of some of the darkest days of my life.
  • I beat bulimia– and gained a party trick!
    • Ok, Ok, so it is not really that funny that I can throw up on command— but it is awesome that I no longer do it to keep my weight in check.  Are the urges there now that I am attempting to regain control of my eating and weight?  Absolutely.  But, I’m strong enough to beat them, and (mostly) know what triggers them.
  • I’m beautiful no matter how much I weigh.
    • This one is huge for me (no pun intended).  I am not comfortable at my current weight, and know that I am not the healthiest I could be either, but, I am no longer obsessing on my delusion that somehow the number on the scale defines my beauty.  I believe my beauty is a combination of my appearance AND my personality.  I happen to think I have an AWESOME personality!
  • I am independent.
    • As a kid, I was ready to take on the world.  No one could do anything for me, because I could always do it myself– or better than they could.  For the duration of my marriage, though, I felt dependant upon my husband to do even the simplest task.  Calling the utility companies was too much for me to handle.  I have since re-created myself, so to speak, and have taken back my ability to accomplish things on my own.  I can now fix the furnace, the water heater pipes, my car, the toilet, the sink, disassemble and reassemble the washer, and many other things!  I mow my own lawn, care for my home, tend my own gardens, work full-time, parent full-time, and yet– I still manage to be AWESOME.  Yes.  That’s right.  I’m that good.
  • I am a Girl Scout leader– and I enjoy it!
    • Yes.  I am a Girl Scout leader.  I have had a troop for going on 3 years now.  We’ve gone from Brownies to Juniors, and are currently working on our Bronze Awards for Junior Scouts.  I am good at it.  The girls are great, and like to participate most of the time.  Some days.. none of us are really ‘there’.  haha.  I love being active in the troop and helping to shape these young girls into strong, confident, independent young women.  I like to believe that I make a difference in their lives.

Well, there are my first ten things.  I will keep adding to them, though, so that I can better reverse my self-defeating ways of thinking.  I will stop worrying that I am not the skinniest person in the world, or that I yell at my kids sometimes.  I will forgive myself for eating those deliciously wretched mozzarella sticks every Saturday afternoon with Kelly.  I will not worry that I may not run that 5K in June, and, instead, reframe my goal to better suit my body and its ability to re-adjust to running.  I will continue to further my education.  I will not stop exploring spirituality. and, even though my opinions are often very jaded on this very subject, I will do my best to keep an open mind.  I will not go in search of that ‘perfect love’, but will, instead, allow it to find me.  I cannot, and do not, expect perfection in the worldly definition, but I wish to be the perfect ME that I can.

*I*, alone, will be held accountable for my own personal happiness.

I would love to hear from others– what do you like about yourself?  What disillusionment or self-depreciating behavior will you decide to reverse?  How will you do it?  Please feel free to use your comment as an item of accountability!


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