The Difference of a Year

 

It’s been exactly a year since I took my last trip to San Francisco. This place makes me so happy – I get to stay in a friend’s gorgeous apartment, bask in all the sunshine and greenery, eat at my favorite spots, and explore new parts of the city while also visiting old haunts.

As I’ve reflected on this past year, I realized that I’ve had some pretty incredible gains…and losses. The biggest realization that I’ve made in the past 12-18 months is the one of ‘duality’ (for lack of a better word). The yes….and yes. How there can be two seemingly diametrically opposed truths held in tandem and they both are just that – true. I’ve also learned a lot about perspective and empathy. It’s been a tough ride and it’s only after going through the tough bits that I’ve been able to gain the perspectives that I have. I’d like share some of those gains and losses with you, along with some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

  • Lost – 50+ pounds (and still going!)
  • Gained – a new appreciation for my body and what it can do. I didn’t realize until a few months ago just how uncomfortable being in my body had become. I had a job several years ago that was an awful fit for me – I was on the road all the time, eating poorly, not working out…I gained a significant amount of weight over the course of that year and had never managed to lose it even after quitting the job. I finally got to a point where I felt uncomfortable in my body – like everything was too tight and foreign. Last year I started running before work – I called it the ‘path to least resistance’ to exercise since literally all I had to do was put on shoes and run out my front door and around my neighborhood. From there I built on baby steps of eating better, investing in an Apple watch to track my activity, and spending time logging my nutrition. I didn’t go on a restrictive diet because I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain that forever (a girl’s gotta have her pastries…). I’ve found that what’s working well for me is tracking my nutrition (macro and micro nutrients) and monitoring my energy input vs. energy output (this is beyond basic calorie counting as I’m able to see how active I am and therefore adjust my food intake accordingly). I still have a little bit to go to achieve my ideal health goal, but I feel better than I have in years.
  • Lost – relationships (2 of them, of the romantic persuasion)
  • Gained – a whooooooooole lotta information on what’s important to me in a partner, as well as a whooooooooooooole lotta love for myself. I hadn’t realized until a few months ago how incredibly codependent I am in relationships. Because I wanted to be married so badly, I would mold myself into what I thought my partner wanted while simultaneously having an unrealistic view of what relationships were like to the point that I tended to be selfish/self-centered, demanding, and judgmental of my partner. I was insecure in myself, in my value as part of the relationship equation. I always thought of myself as ‘too’ – too overwhelming, too much, too emotional, too needy, too rigid, too ugly, too awkward…and if these were the core truths I believed about myself, bringing that into a relationship essentially doomed it to failure. I’m thankful for both of the men I was able to love and learn from over this past year. I’m thankful for my incredible therapist for helping me to change my thinking about myself and to truly trust in my own self-worth.
  • Lost – $12,000+
  • Gained – a clean bill of health, a new apartment, and becoming debt-free for the first time ever. If you read my last post, you know that I had some scary health issues last year that ended up costing me quite a lot mentally, physically, spiritually, and financially. I was stressed to the max (to the point of losing my hair and barely sleeping), my anxiety reached an all-time high and I was spiraling, and I couldn’t seem to go a month without a trip to my PCP or the ER. I’ve since gone back on medication for anxiety, which has done wonders for me. I can handle my stress much better (to the point that I’m starting to overcome my flight anxiety!!), my hair is growing back, and my hypochondria is at an all-time low. Earlier this year I discovered my apartment had bedbugs, which is quite honestly one of the most traumatizing things I’ve ever experienced (aside from my health scares last year). You know how you hear the nursery rhyme ‘don’t let the bedbugs bite’ and you think it’s cute and chuckle as you drift off to sleep? They’re your worst nightmare – I wouldn’t wish them on anybody. I have scars on my body from scratching in my sleep. I have a paranoia about traveling and being on the T (likely where either I or one of my roommates picked them up). I’m afraid that even though I took every precaution to get rid of them (trashing every single piece of furniture, getting 3 rounds of chemical treatments by exterminators in the apartment, putting every single item of clothing/blanket/fabric through the dryer for at least an hour and then storing it in an airtight container in a storage unit, treating any remaining objects/keepsakes with exterminator-grade pesticides) that I didn’t do enough and I’ll have to relive the nightmare again. After living with these pests for a couple of months, I put in my 30-day notice that I was leaving my apartment with nothing else lined up. By the grace of God I had a new, beautiful apartment in less than a week. I’ve since purchased all new furniture and finally feel at home. Lastly, I paid off my car loan and am officially debt-free for the first time in my life. It’s an incredible feeling and I feel like the world is my oyster.
  • Lost – unquestioning faith.  
  • Gained – the ability to cultivate a deeper and truer relationship with God. After experiencing real suffering for the first time in my life, I had a lot of questions about God. Was He real? Was He good? What was the purpose of this life? Of my life? Had I wasted time, energy, money, and faith in something that wasn’t even really there? Through a *lot* of therapy and conversations with trusted friends and experiences of my own with God, I’m starting to regain the faith I lost….or maybe a better way of putting it is finally having authentic faith. I still have many questions. I still have misgivings and doubts. But if there’s anything this past year has shown me it’s that there is a God, regardless of how I may feel or what I may think, and He has a plan, even if I’m not privy to understanding it. God is not a heavy-handed big meanie up in the sky just waiting to punish me for the inevitable sin I will commit or smite me for the lesson that will take me far too long to learn. He is patient. He can be gentle. He also has reasons for orchestrating the events of my life that may cause seasons of pain and doubt, but ultimately serve a greater good, a growth of empathy in my heart for others, and a deepening in my relationship with the Father (no matter how slowly and cautiously I’m approaching it).

Perspective. Empathy. Discipline. Growth. Love. These are all things I’ve been afforded the opportunity to gain this past year. I never thought that I would get to a point to be able to say this and actually mean it but I am thankful for this past year and all its ups and its many, many downs. I’m most thankful for growing in the understanding that just because I may have moments of feeling that God is absent, that life is meaningless, or that the world is decaying before my eyes, that Truth and belief in that Truth trumps feelings. I pray that this tiny mustard seed of faith continues to grow in all the seasons to come.

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