1.08.2014

where i was when i wasn't here.


Throughout the course of 2013, my friends, family and the occasional kind reader would comment on my blog's radio silence...and ask if I planned to start blogging again. I never knew what to say, since the answer was not definitive, concise or logical. 

When we left Kuwait, I assumed that somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, a switch would flip and I'd be old Bethany again...ready to take photos, make stuff and write about regular ol' life in the US. I tried to start again, but just wound up staring at a lot of blank screens. In time, that creative self would simply click back on...right? 

But months passed and it just didn’t happen.
Instead of eager to start my creative life again, I felt confused about what I was supposed to do next. Frustrated that I'd lost a year of my life to a place most people can't find on a map. Disgusted with myself for gaining a bunch of weight. Nervous about being apart from my husband for seven long months, while he returned to the Middle East for work.

My mind just churned in one destructive circle as I attempted to restart life in the US, sans Gabe, and make sense of the life we'd quickly left behind in Kuwait.

Lesson learned: It's hard to restart when you haven't forgotten the past. 

Looking back at the whole year, it seemed like a failure, and so many negative messages snuck into my head. It happened slowly over the course of the year abroad and continued when I returned to the US. With each tiny perceived failure or flaw, a little note wriggled its way in:

“These pants don’t fit…because I am fat and ugly."
“I haven’t crafted or taken photos in months…because I’m not creative."
“I don’t write anymore….because I’m not interesting.”
“I just ate a cookie…because I cannot control myself.”
“My husband is working in Afghanistan, and I forgot to take care of this little errand he asked me to do…because I am a terrible wife.”
“I didn’t send a birthday gift…because I am an awful friend.”

Every aspect of my life played into these messages, and in time they became a chorus of self-fulfilling prophesies. Even if I had the best intentions to change, my mind would talk itself backwards with a, “Why start, when you’ll quit anyway? Save yourself the disappointment.”

Then, those little messages stopped manifesting themselves as attacks on character attributes or unfulfilled goals and instead became one big overarching refrain about who I was. Like a song on repeat, it was always playing, always rewriting any positive thought that happened to sneak through my dark mind.

“I am worthless. I am nothing. I am and will always be a failure.”

Oof.

That’s a hefty message…with a whole lotta baggage behind it. 

After a few months back in the US, my reaction to all this was to toss my feelings into a dark corner, even the few happy ones that were left, and operate as a numb robot for a while. Instead of processing all that muck, I threw every ounce of energy at losing the weight I’d gained abroad. Those 40 pounds followed me around every day…a nasty physical manifestation of where I had gone wrong, taunting me with every glance in a mirror. A constant reminder that I’d failed. 

I had to lose it...and I just knew that when the scale read 135 pounds, I would be whole. And so I walked. And sometimes jogged. I walked until the sun went down, peddled my bike anywhere I could. I ate healthily, hippie food and re-veganized myself. I wore yoga pants to real yoga classes. (I think my pants were confused.) All that control and all that movement felt so good.

One day, the scale read 135. But there was no magical feeling that life had begun anew. Or that I’d erased all my missteps from the previous year. I still felt all mangled up, tangled up inside.

One-thirty-five didn’t feel like enough, so I kept going. 133. 131. 130. 

And finally, the scale read 129. I rejoiced at the smallest number I’ve ever seen on a scale in my adult life, and that I'd done it all quite healthfully...but took note that once again no confetti dropped from the sky announcing..."a brand! new! Bethany!" It was just the same old me, same problems, same struggles, staring at my startlingly naked self in the mirror. And 129-pound-me still winced at her naked reflection, and at her lack of having life figured out.

I slowly began to realize this:

No number will ever make my life complete, allow me to love myself or solve all other problems I’ve created. There will never be a "perfect time" to change....and work on one’s self will never be finished. My body will never be perfect, neither will my personality, relationships, home or hobbies. There will always be room for growth and improvement, but growth can only occur long term when you have the grace to forgive yourself and the continued desire for something better.

It's time to forgive myself for falling down. Time to let it go. 

So, I made three resolutions for 2014. Two are unrelated to this topic. But, one of them is to forgive myself for my failures, perceived or real, and to stop negative self-talk. Thus far, it works. I acknowledge the negative message when it occurs, but attempt to replace it with a positive or realistic message about myself.

This sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s something I’ve gotta do. I am better than a life full of negative messages. I am worthy. I can be a success...if I get out of my own damn way.

So, now that I’ve shared where I was when I wasn’t here blogging…I’m nailing shut the 2012-2013 door. 


Here’s to 2014, friends. To starting new. To dreaming big and loving thyself…and other hippie mantras I learned in yoga. ;)

41 comments:

  1. Welcome back Bethany! That hippie stuff can be pretty amazing when you let it! Cheers to the New Year and loving yourself! :)

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  2. It's so great to see an update here! I'm sorry the past year(s) have been so hard on you. I have always admired your candor here and find you truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing. Here's to a fabulous 2014!

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  3. Some things are just hard and that is stinky. I'm sorry it's been a rough year, but I am excited for this year! And your new healthy way of life! Welcome back. :)

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  4. This is such a great blog post, and your resolution is awesome. Being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind to others.

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  5. Welcome back! I always enjoy reading your blog posts and love your writing style. I hope things balance out and you have a fantastic 2014!

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  6. I swear we share so many of the same thoughts and feelings. Welcome back! Your craftastic-gorg hair-flawless picture taking-self will be back in no time. Great job with the weight loss!! Happy 2014 ♡

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  7. So glad that you are back!

    Now if you could toss some of that wearing-yoga-pants-to-actual-yoga-classes motivation my way, I'd be really grateful. :-)

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  8. Bethany you're not only inspiring, but you're relatable. I think a lot of women feel this way more often than they should... You're so brave for sharing your experiences like this and I'm so happy that you're learning to strip the negativity from your life :) It's an example a lot of us can follow.

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  9. Bethany -

    So happy you are back!!!! I came across your blog when Lovely Little Details posted your NYE's wedding <3 LOVED LOVED LOVED it!!! As much as I loved my own wedding, I would love to do something like what you did.

    Anyway's, life sucks sometimes. It has it's up's and down's and if it didn't…life would be boring. It looks like you are ready to move into this new year with a positive outlook. I look forward to hearing all your new adventures in this new year. One of my favorite things to read about was Lucky. I loved how you rescued him (me being a crazy cat lady…it happens to the best of us.) I look forward to more pictures of Lucky and your fun decor that I wish I was half as creative!!! I just noticed in your latest picture the chalkboard frame behind your couch…so easy and fun…but will it ever happen in my home? nope.

    Just know that there are many readers of your blog that never gave up on you…and for me I would check in on your blog every now and then and I am sure I wasn't the only one. :)

    Oh and yes…can you send those magical yoga pants to all?!?

    Cold Crazy Kat Lady from Connecticut,
    Tori

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  10. So nice to see a new post Bethany! I'm hoping that 2014 is going to be your year as it's too bad that 2013 was a rough one for you. I'm sure we have all had our share of bad year(s) in the past too and I am happy to hear that you've come out the other side with this perspective. I hope that this year you find what brings you the most joy (and girl you are so creatively talented NEVER let yourself of anyone else tell you otherwise!), it would be great to see you back posting but if that is not what you see yourself doing during this time in your journey I'm sure your readers understand (at for me your tweets give me good Bethany-fix!). Also you may have inspired me to DO yoga in these yoga pants of mine...maybe?

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  11. Thanks for sharing something so difficult and personal. It's so hard how we are the harshest judgers of ourselves. We can look and see how lovely you nay be–even when you are blind to it. I am glad you are on the mend, my dear. And, I am thankful to have known you these years.
    All my love,
    Amanda

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  12. We've missed you! Here's to an amazing 2014!

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  13. This is something that is so wonderfully raw and open. Thank you Bethany for sharing this with us. I think we can all relate to this post more than we'd like to. For me it was teaching in 2012 and 2013 and it has changed my view of myself for the worse. I have negative self talk all the time though, I put myself down, I feel like people are judging me, and I keep waiting to have that positive feeling back but it never comes. It makes sense but it still feels like failure.

    Your words have a way of resonating through me. It's so easy for me to look at your situation and completely understand and feel like you are strong and powerful. I hope your resolution works for you. You are an amazing woman Bethany and it has been a really rough year. You are kind and inspiring and 2014 WILL be better.

    I've missed you and your blog but take as much time as you want to find yourself!

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  14. I always look forward to your blog - such real feelings and inspiration to be kind to ourselves. I hope 2014 is a wonderful year for you!

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  15. First of all, hooray! You've posted again.

    Second, thank you. Thank you for your honesty and sharing part of your story. In a way, it really encouraged me and reminded me of the truth- A number on the scale will never make me truly happy. Recently I had a bit of a personal meltdown when I had to go up a pant size due to gaining a bit of weight. And, I needed to read this . Thank you for sharing.

    I wish you the very best for 2014!!!

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  16. I so love your posts. You are a compelling writer with your words alone. I love your pics as well...but want you to know that your words can stand alone. :) This post is very uplifting. I will be referring to it often when I feel defeated. So glad you pushed through.

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  17. You were where I kind of am now, and have been since I lost my job just before my birthday in December. I'd lost all that weight yet now I'm almost the heaviest I've ever been, and cannot stop the negative self-talk. I envy you, and am proud of you!

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  18. Thank you so much for this post. You put into words a lot of the things I've been feeling lately too. It resonated in so many ways My goal for 2014 is self-forgiveness. For a variety of things. I just finished reading Brene Brown's Daring Greatly (amazing book) and she talks about how we are really good at shaming ourselves for being "never ________ enough" - however we fill in that blank. So although I didn't set a resolution for this year, I am trying to focus on allowing myself to be enough, just as I am.

    Welcome back. I hope this means that we get to see more of you.

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  19. So happy to read your voice in this space again. I'm sure this was hard for you to put out there, but you certainly are not alone. For me personally spending time in the bible and remembering gods love for all of us has always saved me from my darkest moments.

    Wishing you a beautiful and charmed new year!

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  20. To quote the world's-worst-tv-show-but-I'm-not-ashamed-to-admit-that-I-watched-it, Jersey Shore - "You do you."

    Keep being the real, beautiful Bethany - and it will all look up.

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  21. To quote the world's-worst-tv-show-but-I'm-not-ashamed-to-admit-that-I-watched-it, Jersey Shore - "You do you."

    Keep being the real, beautiful Bethany - and it will all look up.

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  22. To quote the world's-worst-tv-show-but-I'm-not-ashamed-to-admit-that-I-watched-it, Jersey Shore - "You do you."

    Keep being the real, beautiful Bethany - and it will all look up.

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  23. To quote the world's-worst-tv-show-but-I'm-not-ashamed-to-admit-that-I-watched-it, Jersey Shore - "You do you."

    Keep being the real, beautiful Bethany - and it will all look up.

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  24. I felt like this post was a page out of my journal. Thank you for sharing. I recently moved to LA and we seem to be living very similar stories... Sending you lots of courage, strength, laughter and a little extra luck!

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  25. awwwww I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I am the same same way and it is nice to hear you write it! Sending you lots of wonderful hugs across the pond. You are a beautiful person Bethany:) Happy new year!

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  26. Thank you for writing this, you've articulated a niggling feeling I've been having for over a year. Good luck with your new years resolutions.

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  27. Hooray! So glad to see you back in the bloggy game :) You're one of the most creative minds I follow...but depression has a way of interfering with that. Don't let a bout of that beast make you think that your creative bones are all broken! As The Bloggess always says: Depression lies.

    Also, glad to hear you achieved your weight-loss goals (seriously, 40+ pounds is an accomplishment to be proud of!) but I'd hate to see you fall into an unhealthy spiral with it. Please be well and take care of yourself!!

    XO,
    Emma

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  28. I'm so glad that you reflect upon and verbalize on these things that so many people feel. Are you inside my head sometimes? It's kinda creepy!

    Although it may not have given you the feeling you needed, you deserve to have your hard work towards weight loss recognized. It is such an accomplishment! However, I think the greater congratulations should be for your self-awareness of the rocky road towards achieving happiness. :)

    P.S. - That last line just made me think of rocky road ice cream, so it's a good thing that I only have frozen pineapple in the freezer right now.

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  29. This post is oh so lovely and so are you. Thank you for sharing the not do perfect things in life here. I hope you continue to post and continue on the road of self love <3 it's so essential to ones happiness, their knowledge of self worth :) and you- are worthy.

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  30. Bethany you are awesome. Thanks for being real and sharing this post. Negative self talk can have such a bad effect on our self-esteem and confidence and it's just so darn common among everyone (maybe especially women?).

    I've started a new thing that you might find helpful - whenever I find myself giving in to negative self talk I think about what I would say to my best friend if I were her. I certainly wouldn't call her fat or give her a hard time (man, that would be a baaaad friend). I then say to myself what I would say to my best friend. And you know what, it does work. Let's stop being so darn harsh on ourselves!

    xx

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  31. This is the best post ever. Just... wow! I love your honesty... I think we've all been *there* even if the situations are different.

    Welcome back :)

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  32. Welcome back Bethany! Welcome back!! :D

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  33. I often fall into the trap of thinking "when" something happens I will be satisfied. Like, when I lose 5 pounds or when my business makes X amount of money or when I have a child. I think women do this a lot....we are always thinking WHEN rather than enjoying the journey. My 2014 resolution is to just make shit happen (kind of vague ;)) and ENJOY the ride. Because even if I do make something happen that I have been aiming to make happen...you're right, no confetti will fall from the sky and I will still be me. Great post.xoxo

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  34. Thank you so much for your honesty always. I love all of the adorable things about your blog, but I also have loved reading your journey and following your story. You can absolutely forgive yourself and begin anew! The start of the year is always an apt time to start. Good luck! I can't wait to keep reading about it!

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  35. We are our own worst critics, Bethany. It's easy for us to focus on our failures and shortcomings when no one else can see them. They see us for who we REALLY ARE. And I think you're pretty awesome.

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  36. You, my dear, are a ray of light. I applaud your honesty and sense of self. Keep on keepin' on, friend.

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  37. What a brave and insightful post. Life is never easy…and we create a lot of un-necessary suffering. I have learned through a failed marriage and all sorts of other bad shit thrown at me…we are not our thoughts! In a few years…you will see how living in Kuwait made you stronger than you dreamed possible. You will come to actually love what you struggled with…because on the other side of suffering is insight and peace. It takes time…but this 44 year old lady had learned a thing or two. Forgiveness and self love is key. You have done nothing wrong. You're just growing…and growth can be yucky sometimes. Don't beat yourself up…take time to do what you need to do. You're a beautiful soul! xo

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  38. Thank you so so very much for sharing this with us!

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  39. Thank you for this:
    "There will never be a "perfect time" to change....and work on one’s self will never be finished. My body will never be perfect, neither will my personality, relationships, home or hobbies. There will always be room for growth and improvement, but growth can only occur long term when you have the grace to forgive yourself and the continued desire for something better."
    Bravo.

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  40. ok, i'm sure one month later is entirely too late to post a blog comment - but this is the first time i'm sitting down at a computer to do said commenting, so here you go :)

    i was so happy to see rinse.repeat show up on my reader again!! i always read your posts first, because they are always filled with such beautiful writing that's guarateed to be authentic and genuine and real - and probably a beautiful photo or two thrown in! i can't comprehend how the past few years have played with your emotions. you were/are in such a unique place that even the strongest of us would have trouble dealing with. i too often struggle with comparing the "me" i used to be (in high school, in college, pre-husband, pre-kid) with the me i am now - it's so hard not to! we evolve, and often very positively, but it's hard to let go of what once-was, even when we know in our hearts that that old self simply doesn't fit with the here and now we live in - and that's ok. how boring life would be if we stayed the same! i'm so glad you have found ways to feel like your old self again, and at the same time you are giving up trying to regain that "perfect" you and accepting the current you (who is absolutely beautiful, inside and out). it might take months or years more to find your new rhythm, as you and gabe begin to carve out your new life together - but the true essence of who you are, no matter what you craft or weigh or wear, is still there, and you've got to let her shine. she's too inspiring not to! :)) xoxo

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  41. Bethany, I miss your writing. I miss your blog!

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Every time you comment, a unicorn gets his wings. Also, my phone beeps and your words bring me joy. :)

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