My reflection

From the time I was 5 years old I felt fat. I remember in kindergarten, not wanting to sit in circle time on my knees because I thought my legs were too big.

Not normal.

I wasn’t even a big child either. But somehow the thought of being perfect was embedded into my brain. From birth? From the verbal abuse I was enduring? I’ve done enough counseling to understand it has to do with coping and control.

I’ve been obsessed with my body my entire life. I’ve cried, I’ve screamed, and nothing ive ever tried to do has ever helped me. To the outside world, if someone like me expresses these feelings, than I am vain and seeking attention. Judge me, I dont care because I’ve thought worse about myself than you. It’s a real disorder and a real sickness. It’s not about attention. It’s something so deep that’s so incredibly hard to understand or explain.

People think just because someone is thin, that they’re happy. If someone is large, they’re lazy. Both are untrue. No one can win, so why try?

I stare at other women who are all sizes and admire their confidence. Women are beautiful. And at times I do feel beautiful! Its been a 30 year journey to begin to love what i see in the mirror. It’s taken years of practice telling myself that what I think of my body is not really real. I see a big woman. But I know that’s not really true. I’ve been afraid of going public about this out of fear of judgement. I’m public about being an alcoholic so why not about this? Maybe it will hold me accountable to keep trying to heal.

The only thing I can say is that I’ve started praying about it. It’s the only thing I hadn’t done all these years to try and overcome it. I thought, prayer has helped my sobriety so why haven’t I prayed about this? So simple its stupid lol.

Perhaps its working? because nearly 4 months after having my 3rd son, I can look in the mirror and actually say that I’m happy with how I look for just having a baby. For someone like me, that’s huge! Sure, there are days where I count the dimples in my thighs, and I’m 2 inches bigger all around than I was a year ago. But, if I shut the negative talk down long enough, I start to see the real me staring back.

Why do we self hate? Is it easier and safer than having others hate us? Is it learned behaviour from abuse? These all might be true. But all I can do is talk myself down, out of the negative thoughts. If I can slowly change how I think, maybe the reflection will be clearer.

 

A short poem I wrote:

“I dont see what other see

When I look in the mirror,

I don’t see me.

I see a woman who’s larger in size

But my clothes say different,

So my brain is telling lies.

I was 5 years old when I felt this way

Not a moment went by,

That I felt okay.

I’m 35 now, so 30 yrs too long

But I realize it now,

That my minds been wrong.

I can pick myself apart

From my nose to my thighs,

And no one hears my silent cries.

I’ve been my own worst enemy

But I’m learning to love,

The person inside and the reflection that’s me.”

– Amanda Loewen

 

 

Irrelevant Perception

If its not my own truth, its not relevant to who I am.

 

Why do we let what others think of us determine how we feel about ourselves? At what point in our lives do we actually allow others perceptions of us validate who we are?

I can tell you that i have cared since the beginning of my existence – or when my memory begins around 4 years old. However my childhood was filled with verbal & physical abuse in which my mother and sister got the brunt of it. I received it as well but I was the youngest who spent most of the time watching in the corner. I was full of fear, anxiety, self doubt, poor self esteem and depression. Everything in the house had to be perfect. Our rooms had to be spotless without a crayon on the floor, even our toy box had to be organized! Everything I did revolved around whether or not he would be happy or angry with me. This type of mentality was embedded in my brain from a very very early age. Its all I knew. So of course, well after my mom had left him, this stuck with my personality. I was a people pleaser.

Everything I did, said and wore, I thought about what other people would think first, before I had even decided for myself. IT DROVE ME INSANE. But still, I couldnt stop!

This pattern has followed me throughout my life. I have focused on pleasing others before myself. In friendships & relationships.

It is extremely tiring and overwhelming and the only thing that would calm me down was a drink. When i sobered up, I was stuck with these thoughts. My anxiety was at an all time high and  I was drowning in my own thoughts.

It hasn’t been easy over the last 4.5 years but Ive done a lot of work on myself. Ive had to face my feelings, my character defects and Ive had to work on them! The biggest lesson that I have learned is the fact that i cannot control or change other people. The more i worry about what others think or about what they do, the less time I am spending on bettering myself. And, If Im not my best self then I can easily go back to the negative, depressed active alcoholic that I was for a decade. Ive spent the better part of my entire life worrying about other people instead of myself. I allowed other opinions to dictate how I view myself. I believed hurtful words, I allowed myself to be treated like garbage. I allowed every bad experience to continue to hurt me. WHY??? What good does that do? Absolutely nothing! Its INSANITY! Pure insanity! I can only control MYSELF and how I react to people. MIND BLOWN!

Why this has taken me 34 years to figure out? The only reason I can think of is that I had to go through all of this experience to realize who I really am, who I want in my life, and my self worth. Also, to be quite frank, Im just too sick and tired to care anymore. Im worn out worrying about haters who think their perception of me is correct.

The thing is, if people base their opinion on me prior to 2014, they really dont know the real me anyways! That person was broken and slowly slipping away. So why care what they think if I know & God knows who I really am!

There are people who dont like me today. There are people I thought were my friends who have slowly cut me out. There have been times that I have been verbally attacked. I was judged for dating my now husband, Jon, because of the amount of sobriety he had back then. Did all of this bother me? Yes. However I have wasted way too many years worrying about every single person and every single opinion i just CANT DO IT ANYMORE. I pray about it. I ask God to help me forgive and let it go. This does not happen overnight, but eventually I dont even think about it anymore!

Bottom line? If its not my own truth, its not relevant to who I am. My life is MINE, not anyone else. No one owns me. I am not a puppet on a string, I am not a servant and I have self love and self worth today. I dont want to look back on my life realizing that I was living for other people instead of living for me.

Think before you Judge

Don’t assume their happiness is fake because you are in reality faking your own

If I’m judged (which I totally am) or unfriended on social media (happens a lot) for doing Younique, or sharing my happiness then i will pray for those people. As much as it bugs me, i must remember that I also was the type of person who was annoyed by happy, confident people. They pissed me off. It wasn’t until I got healthy mentally & spiritually that I realized that it’s way easier and better to lift other women up then to judge them.
Let’s be clear. My life isn’t perfect. I just don’t air my dirty laundry on social media. I share my family, my sobriety in hopes to help others, my animals and my business that helps so many women feel good about themselves inside and out. It provides for my family. I’m Christmas shopping this week because I made money working online.
So I guess God is showing me what I had once done to others. Judged them by their happiness, by their selfies and by their jobs. When in fact the real problem is within themselves just like it was inside me.

I used to make fun of women who worked the streets and now I have great friends who used to be those women. I have compassion for them today. I see them as women, individuals and not for what they used to be.

I used to judge alcoholics who drank everyday and smelled of booze. Who scrambled change to buy a can of beer. And I became an alcoholic myself. I became who I once judged.

I used to judge those who rushed into relationships and then I did it myself.

I could never understand how mothers or fathers could let themselves get to a point where they lose their children. Then it almost happened to me. It woke me up real quick! Now I understand. Addiction takes over. It doesn’t make us bad parents it made us sick parents.

I’m grateful God shows me these lessons because without them i would not learn.

Don’t judge others. Don’t assume you know their life. Don’t assume their happiness is fake because you are in reality faking your own. I speak these words because I’m speaking from experience. I’m no longer that person I have explained here today. When I come across people who hurt my feelings, I ponder over it way too long. Eventually I pray about it & slowly let it go.

We cannot expect the world to treat us how we want to be treated. Expectations are resentments waiting to happen. All we can do is control how we react.

React with kindness not judgement. You never know when you will go through the same thing.

Don’t paint someone as weird or someone who you would never be friends with. God may cross your paths at some point and they may become your best friend or someone who comes into your life for a reason.

Don’t complain when it’s too hot and complain when it’s too cold. Don’t stress over not having money and then stress about paying bills when you do have money to pay them. Don’t complain about the cashier who wasn’t friendly. She may be working 3 jobs to feed her kids and she is exhausted. Don’t judge a parent who’s child is screaming, you have no idea if that child has disabilities that are not visible.

My rant is based on the fact that this world is taught to judge.

Why should we judge anyone when we aren’t perfect.

Perfection does not exist so why do we seek it.

God can judge me. And I’m completely comfortable with that today.

Sober 1600 days December 10th 2018

 

A Life Not Wasted

Without his mistakes teaching me about my own path, I wouldnt have accepted the other part of who I am.

Many people believe that one who lives a broken, sad or troubled life without changing their ways before death, is a life wasted. I used to believe this as well, but now I am unsure.

Take my dad for example. He spent over 40 years drinking hard. He lost a wife, another good woman, his children. He spent the last 20 years living alone and the last 6 years with heart problems. One would say he wasted his life.

But did he?

I wouldnt have learned to be compassionate towards others with disabilities if I didnt have a father who was deaf. I wouldnt have learned that staring at others is rude. I wouldnt have learned that it shouldnt matter if someone can hear or not, see or not see, have all their limbs or not, hair or no hair. I wouldnt have learned that the heart is what matters the most.

After 10 years of drinking hard myself, I wouldnt have realized that my sons would be  gone one day too, and I would have been in my dads position, alone. I used that awakening moment to finally make the decison to stop the cycle of alcholism in the family. I wouldnt have sobered up 30 years before my dad.

Without sobering up I wouldnt have learned to forgive him. I never would have looked at him as a spiritually sick person instead of an evil person like I had for 20 years. My anger never would have lifted and I wouldnt have peace in my heart. When he passed away, I wouldnt have helped plan his celebration of life. I wouldnt be going through his belongings and taking care of what needed to be done. I wouldnt be sitting here missing him and I sure as hell wouldnt have spoken at his celebration of life.

His journey through life helped me realize that I dont want to go through the same. I dont want to lose my children or my spouse. I dont want to be someone who I am not because of this disease. The fact is, I am his daughter and I always will be. Half of who I am is who he was. His journey helped me realize that I want more than he had. His mistakes taught me forgiveness which brought me serenity. Without this experience I wouldnt be reminiscing about the good times or feeling proud to be just like him. From his creativity to his work ethic, all the way to the curly hair and blue eyes. Without his mistakes teaching me about my own path, I wouldnt have accepted the other part of who I am.

He taught me a lot regardless of his inability to be the father he should have been.

PEOPLE PLEASING

Nearly 4 years sober and I still have a hard time letting go. You see, I am a huge people pleaser. I’m pretty sure it’s a result of my abusive childhood. Every day for the first 10 years of my life I was either listening to screaming, being hit or feeling afraid. My world was inside an egg shell. I did everything that I could to prevent him from being angry. I spoke when asked, I made sure all my chores were done, I kept quiet and I never talked back. I didn’t know this was not normal until I started going for playdates at friends houses. I never wanted to come home. I began to envy my friends families and asked for extra time at my nanas house whenever I went there.

My people pleasing curse (as I call it) has followed me into adulthood. It’s been attached at my hip throughout every relationship and friendship. It’s absolutely exhausting.

My mind is a revolving door. It never shuts completely and it keeps recycling the same old shit every time.  Are they upset with me? What did I do wrong? They must be talking bad about me now. They are judging me. Their opinions have changed! How can I get them to be happy again? Why don’t they like me? Am I not fun? OMG fuck I drive myself INSANE! I have even avoided crucial decisions and suffered the consequences just to keep the other person happy and to avoid conflict. This is a major character defect of mine!

No matter how many times i work the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, this comes up on my inventory. I’d like to say I am getting better but I am no where near in the clear.

It’s a battle within my own head. One side says who cares if they don’t like you, as long as my side of the street is clean, that’s all that matters. Or, if I do upset someone, apologize and let it go. If my spouse seems agitated, I shouldn’t automatically think it’s about me. But the default side of my brain obsesses over fixing the situation. The problem is, I am trying to control way too many situations that I cannot control. It’s not my job to make someone happy. I cannot make someone like me. It’s none of my business what someone thinks of me and it’s not up to me to make someone forgive me after I apologize.

I must let go and let God. Give it to him to deal with because I am exhausted. At times I need to remind myself of that.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

I was programmed to please others before myself, so practicing letting go is a classic example of  “progress not perfection”.

Perfection does not exist. So please God take my fear of pleasing everyone away. It’s too heavy to carry anymore and I need your help.

All She Wanted

All she wanted was the effort that she gave. The love she showed and the loyalty she promised. Unfortunately it would take 33 years to find it. Before the disaster of the dating world began, she was molded into an insecure, self conscious little girl who was quiet unless she was around her sister and mother. Fear ran through her veins as it would for many years to come. The only time she felt safe was with her Nana & Grandpa. After the death of her Nana when she was just 9 years old, all her sense of security died as well. There was no more escaping to Nana’s to get away from the screaming & hitting. She endured the violence, most of which went against her mother and sister. But we have two ears for a reason. She heard everything. Every hurtful word. The words were worse than the spoon breaking on her behind.

Dating began in mid teens and she clung to any attention she could get. Desperate & lonely she seeked love. Unfortunatley she was not given a good example of relationships and this resulted in her dating men who resembed the abusive man she called “Dad” growing up. She was never physically abused by men she dated, however she was controlled, manipulated, verbally and emotionally abused. It seemed that every man she dated took turns with a type of abuse. If she could just change a man, he would treat her the way she hoped for and if she could become who they wanted her to be, IF….being the repetitive word. The cycle of the “bad boy” remained a bad habit for many years.

The fact of the mater was that she didnt believe she was worth better. How could she believe she was? Her biological father abandoned her before birth, she was abused until the age of 10 and watched her mother be degraded. Her step father became her dad and he was an angel sent to her family from then on, however the damage was already done by the age of 11. She had absolutely no self worth.

She had become a broken, sad and sick alcoholic. It took 18 years of relationships before she finally snapped. One last heartbreak and she realized that she needed to do things different if she ever wanted to find lasting love. By this time she was 2 years sober and had been doing a lot of work on herself. She was sober, a great mother, in full time school and thriving. And the man she was with backed off slowly. He was with her in her hard times, but when she began to grow as a woman, and shine bright in her accomplishments he was no where to be found. What did this teach her? That the man she was meant to be with would want to be with her in good times and in bad. He would accept her for who she was and never want her to change. He would love all of her, and be an equal partner in life who put her as a priority and not an option.

She found this man when she was 33 years old. They remained friends for 5 months before dating. This was something she had never done. Despite her fear of heartbreak again, she listened to her instinct. Her instinct that she believed was God speaking to her. She had no bad feeling towards him. There was no thought in the back of her mind telling her that it wasnt right. Her fear was simply a reaction to being treated with respect. It was new and she had no idea how to deal with it. So, she prayed. She prayed and asked God to remove her fear and have her accept this new love.

He asked her to marry her 3 months later.

She is now grateful for every heartbreak she endured. They were lessons in life that prepared her for the real thing. Its funny how God works in mysterious ways.

All she wanted, is now all she has in front of her.

Spiritual Malady

One of the biggest things I learned early on in my sobriety is that alcohol wasn’t my main problem.

Say what!?

Yeah, that was my first thought too.

You see, I have a 3 part disease. An allergy of the body, an obsession of the mind, and a spiritual malady.

ONE sip of alcohol and my brain becomes obsessed. It actually sends off signals to my body wanting more. All control is lost. This is when my choice is gone. If I tried to stay sober one day, that day consisted of me obsessing over every minute and every hour that i was without it, and contemplating every reason to drink. The obsession always won.

The spiritual malady was explained to me when I started to do some work on myself for the first time in my life. I had never heard such a thing. I had already admitted & accepted that I was an alcoholic and I understood why I shouldn’t drink anymore. But I didn’t believe I could ever be happy. Happiness was rare for me so I was a non believer, and I was about to roll my eyes and tell myself, I knew this was bullshit.

However I read the paragraph on p52 in the AA Big Book that sums up the symptoms of the infamous AA ‘spiritual malady’ said to be at the root of all alcoholism/addiction; the reason why we need to drink/drug/have sex with strangers/eat our weight in sugar/work ’til we drop just to cope with daily life;
‘We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy…’ it goes on.

I was all ears. Could this really be? Someone else felt the same? This isn’t just me? There is a name for how I have felt my entire life? At 30 years old I had absolutely no ability to cope with anything that caused me unhappiness, stress or anxiety. So of course! It makes sense! You mix a spiritual malady, an obsession of the mind and a physical allergy and no wonder I drank daily for 10 years. To make it worse, I am predisposed to alcoholism because of my family history. This is when my eyes opened and my ears started listening to learn and not just listening to justify going back to drinking.

I can honestly say that my spiritual malady can creep up like a creature in the night. If I’m not self aware, if I don’t pray to my higher power on a daily basis, if I stop expressing myself, helping others, and doing all the things that I have been taught, that malady will stick around. Eventually my old coping mechanism will come back and I will drink. I know this 100%. So today, when those bad days come, I use my tools; or my lifelines as I like to call them. I pray, call a friend, distract myself with a book or writing here, I work on my business, I try to help someone, I go to a meeting, or some times I simply spend time alone in a quiet room.

Allowing myself to feel sucks some days. I hate the sadness, anxiety & stress life brings sometimes. But I like it more than relapsing! This too shall pass- and it does!