Loving Them Was Killing Me

Needless to say this year has not disappointed me.  In fact, if we wrapped the year up today, I’d log it as epic and it would go down in my life story as one of the best ever.  Not only has releasing The Love Project, helped me realize the power of raising my voice, but it has set me on a serious path to deeper level self love.  Now as good as this kind of love feels,  I’ll admit it has also painfully exposed the areas where I really need to go deeper, dive in and uproot some very rotten beliefs about myself.

As you know, I have been in a pruning season for the last year. It was clear to me some time ago that God was moving me in a different direction.  When I finally surrendered and let go of the toxic people and relationships that were stealing my joy my life settled.   I relaxed. I felt my soul return. I let go. And I could just be.  After the tears slowed and my heart began to heal, I woke up one morning a few weeks ago and found myself in the middle of the sidewalk with my dog London.   As the sun caressed my face amidst fresh flowers and trees in full bloom, I felt myself return. “Hello love… there you are”, I thought.  “I’ve missed you so much.”  I felt like me again.  I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that  content and at peace with myself.  I won’t lie… It felt great.  Freeing. Alive. Amazing.  I wanted more.  Who knew I’d find that much peace and happiness by choosing to put myself and my needs first?

So yes, this process of choosing to love myself has required gut wrenching heart surgery, but it’s been totally worth every moment of painful sacrifice.  I’m feeling really good on the inside these days.  Pruning those toxic relationships that I knew were draining me has produced goodness and wholeness in me so pure I would have eagerly done it years ago if you could have convinced me of this outcome.

So with Spring in full gear, I’m immensely thankful for this season.  But I can’t help but wonder how I got so far off track. I mean … How did I lose myself like that? Somewhere along the way I was misled to believe that I needed to show up in life as someone other than myself.  I believed that I had to please others, make others happy, sacrifice myself, compromise my needs and my desires in order to be loved and accepted.  You see … my people pleasing game is sick! If it were an Olympic sport I’d be a serial gold medalist.  Seriously!!!  Who knew that by learning to say no when I really wanted to, by distancing myself from people who brought me negativity and mistreated me or by simply being intentional about lounging on the couch while wearing fuzzy socks and bingeing on episodes of This is Us and Being Mary Jane, I’d find inexplicable peace and joy?  So now with Spring in full gear, I’ve decided it’s finally time to pack up my fuzzy socks and trade them in for something more lighthearted and carefree.  You know something more reflective of my current status? So I’m pleased to usher in Flip Flops season.  And while my journey is far from over, these flip flops of mine represent the newness and oncoming joy I’m feeling in my heart these days. And they are an outward expression of the next level of self care I need to now reclaim.

So as always, I was forced to kick off the season by facing some really brutal truths about what other things in my life are blocking my joy.  And it started by taking a long honest hard look in the mirror.  Ok … so in case you haven’t noticed,  I’ve gained some inches over the last couple of years.  Of course, I’m not happy about it, but I refused to feel bad about it or beat myself up for gaining weight while I was working through the muck and mire of all of those break ups and that other nasty heart stuff.  Somehow those magical fuzzy socks breathed life into me and helped me to accept and love myself despite the mess of my life and what it had become. “It is what it is,” I admitted honestly and often.  And so I chose to table losing weight and resolved to tackle it later when I was ready.  I was carrying so much other emotional baggage I decided I just needed to find a way to make peace with my fluffier self for a while.  And I repeatedly reminded myself that it was okay and I was okay. “When you’re ready you’ll move,” I reassured myself.

If you’ve heard me speak or share my story over the last few months, then you’ve heard me joke about the women’s department store I own called “My Closet”.  And so you’ve probably also heard me share funny stories about my expandable and retractable girth.  In fact, I’ve gained and lost the same 30-40 lbs truly about 3 times in the last ten years, and I’ve got a closet full of clothes in every size imaginable as proof.  What’s worse… My size always reflects the condition of my heart.

WOW!!! Now that’s a deep hard truth to own.  In choosing to love others more than myself, I have also sacrificed my health unnecessarily.  No one told me to do that for them.  I made the choice and I have to own those decisions. In fact, when I really think about when I started struggling with my weight I can now see that it’s a deeper level heart issue that traces all the way back to my hospitalization 12 years ago.  Depressed, sad and broken, it is also when I started believing the lie that I was unlovable and damaged.

In fact, I can’t honestly say that I have ever chosen to lose weight truly for my own health and sanity.  *Gut punch* That one hurt.  Hear me clearly. I have NEVER chosen to love myself enough to choose myself as the sole reason.  If I don’t believe I am good enough, then how can I expect others to?  In reality, I have always lost weight as a condition of pleasing others so they’d love me, like me and validate my worthiness.  I’ve starved myself and worked out days and days on end desperately striving to see a magic number on a scale that meant nothing and everything to me.  I’ve trimmed my thighs to be svelte little curveless wonders and starved myself to be thin enough to be praised and affirmed beautiful.  I’ve counted points.  I’ve eaten clean.  I’ve run.  I’ve suffered through boot camps.  I’ve bartered my weight in exchange for an engagement ring and a proposal that never came, and I’ve even hired personal trainers in hopes they could recreate me so my husband would choose me and remember why he fell in love.  I’ve always lost weight for others.  And so here I am today facing the real me. 40 pounds heavier. Smiling back at a reflection that no longer matches the happiness I’m feeling on the inside.

So you can imagine my shock last night, when despite this knowing … I came home from work to open blood test results from my annual physical showing me the damage I’d done to myself.  “Glucose levels are borderline. Limit starches,” my doctor wrote in the margin. What?!! Borderline what?!!! *Cue car screeching*  REWIND!  “Diabetes?!!! That can’t be… it doesn’t even run in my family!,” I thought as  I just sat there in disbelief.  I never knew loving others more than I loved myself was literally killing me.  As I sat there, processing the results, I thought of all of the people, things and stuff I’d been putting before myself over and over again as the last two years of my life replayed through my mind’s eye.

Luckily, I’ve gotten good at making peace with myself and my messes.  And thanks to those fuzzy socks, I am now able to see myself clearly and more honestly survey the collateral damage.  Yesterday was my wake up call and now it’s time to clean up the debris, heal my body and do the work needed to reclaim my temple.

And  today that starts with forgiveness.  So I forgive myself for the Coca-Cola’s and Coke Zeroes and Diet Cokes too.  Yes I drink them all.  I forgive myself for those tasty little thumbprint cookies, too many to name, that  I ate just last Friday because I was having a major melt down at work. I’ll spare you the details, but it was a brutal  tragic assault on that shortbread I tell ya.  I forgive myself for all of the times I blew off my morning workouts because I was too stressed, too tired and too busy to take care of myself as much as I was taking care of everyone else.  I forgive myself for feeling guilty  for regaining the 40 lbs I had just lost.  And I forgive for myself for not loving myself enough to make myself a priority.

It’s okay! I see you and I forgive you. You are worthy regardless of all the circumstances under which you came to be. Hello Beautiful. You are fiercely LOVED.

The ugly truth of the matter is that what I’ve released now defies me and my body reflects its image.  I can let it mock my healing and snatch me back or I can release it and set it free. The choice is mine. And I choose to live and not die. So hello there …  Yes I hear you loudly and clearly wake up call.  It’s time for physical release.  It’s time I get to work healing my body.  And although I know it won’t be easy, I am ready.  Step by step and day by day, I am certain now more than ever that it will be worth every moment of pain and sacrifice.

And now I am truly able to believe that I’m worth every bit of it.

xoxo,

Shani

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