Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Self Reflection and Reinvention

Phase 1: Self Reflection

I lost myself about a year ago.  One whole year of wandering around feeling ever so lost and never finding Andrea again in all that time.  I know exactly when it happened.  It was that key moment when I drove over the California state lines and said goodbye to the life I loved.  It sounds so ridiculous to say that living in one place helped me find myself but it's actually true.  When I arrived in California in 2011 I was in a decent place mentally but I still hadn't truly found the essence of who I was.  Within months of being in my new hippie town in Cali I started to awaken into this person that I loved.  I saw myself in the free loving hippies that would hug you on the sidewalk just because.  I'd happily hug them back.  I was welcomed into this great community of fellow "seers" and "Healers" that shared the same interests and experiences as I.  I even found my place within the animal world after volunteering countless hours at a farm animal sanctuary close to my home.  I found myself developing into this confident, giving, loving, and carefree person.  I loved myself through and through.  I loved my life.  I really truly loved everything about it.

Then, unfortunately, the military got their grimy hands on our future and decided to send us to Germany.  My husband was ecstatic.  I cried for days.  I had no desire to live in a foreign country.  I always wanted to visit Europe but never actually live there.  We went anyway.  After a series of hiccups and complications with our travel we were all finally settled in Germany as a family in June of last year.  I entered the country with mixed feelings.  On one hand I was excited to experience this new adventure but on the other my heart was heavy.  I was moving farther and farther away from the life I loved and from my friends and family.  After the initial excitement we had of traveling to various parts of Europe and our normal life actually kicked in, depression took a strong hold over me and refused to let up.

It was during those months of depression that I started to partake in some serious self reflection.  I no longer liked myself.  I was back to thinking negative thoughts, I was no longer the kind and compassionate person I knew, and I yelled and snapped at the most trivial things.  I withdrew from everyone and hated Germany with every fiber of my being.  It was during that time that I realized pretty quickly that I never truly healed from my past.  I am alright with admitting that I was a horrible person in my past.  I was cruel, selfish, reckless, and just not a good person.  At all.  I look back at my actions, the pain I inflicted, and the person I was with complete disgust.  I still have trouble coping even now when I think of that person.  Regret consumes me and a lump forms in my throat making it hard to breathe.  How does one forgive themselves for things that they deem so horrible?  It's not easy.  That is for sure.  

Not only have I failed to forgive and let go of my past I lost my sense of self.  I no longer recognized the person staring back at me in the mirror.  I lost my sense of adventure which is crazy considering I was on the biggest adventure of my life.  I withdrew even more and became more sad and angry.  

Over this last year a lot has happened.  I moved to a foreign country. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after a decade of suffering from horrible pain and being told I was making it up.  I had to give up school and a career to take care of my son and home school him.  I lost all my independence and free time while my husband was forced to work twelve hour shifts constantly.  I moved to a place where I don't speak the language, I have hardly any of the same comforts (Whole foods, Target, etc) that I took for granted, and I became homesick for Kentucky (a first for me).  It was all so much to process and deal with that for some reason my usually rational and calm mind shut down and refused to budge.  

I've slowly begun to dig myself out of my depression hole and have experienced some moments of clarity that has brought me a little peace of mind.  Through a wonderful friend and much research I've found holistic solutions to ease my fibro pain which has been a miracle in my eyes.  I've come to terms, after shedding too many tears, with giving up my college education to home school my son.  I've found ways to find moments of inner peace by doing yoga, lap swimming, and hiking in the woods.  The woods have been my sanctuary this year and without it I don't know where I would be.  I still haven't let go and forgiven myself for my past and I haven't gotten over missing my family and friends but I think I'll get there.  One day.

The one thing I feel I struggle with the most now is that I still haven't gotten back to myself.  I've stayed lost for so long that I have begun grasping at whatever I can.  I've realized that the one thing that hasn't left me, my medium abilities, became the only thing I had left of my former self in a way.  I started to cling to that like a life raft and began using that as my only Andrea identifier.  In the process I believe I began alienating myself from others because (A) people could care less about what I do (B) People don't believe in those types of things (C) People thought I was crazy and (D) I'm sure it got obnoxious with how much I shouted it from the rooftops.  I get it.  I know now that my medium abilities are just a very small part of who I am; of what can be used to describe the essence of Andrea.  I realized that I don't have to cling to this one thing.  I don't have to announce it constantly so I'm never forgotten.  It's not what defines me.  I'm starting to be ok with that.  

Living in Germany has been harder than I ever imagined.  I still dislike living here but I am determined to make the best of it because it really is an opportunity of a lifetime.  It may not be my dream exactly but it would be selfish and a waste of time to not enjoy it because I will one day look back on this time and hope that I seized every opportunity that I could.  

My life is lonesome, sometimes depressing, and stressful.  But who's isn't??  I've come to the realization that it's time to reinvent myself.  It's time for a change.  I'm ready to be the person I've always wanted to be; the person I can truly love and respect.  I'm doing it for me.

Phase 2: Reinvention Time

time for reinvention: standing on the brink

verb (used with object)
to invent again or anew, especially without knowing that the invention already exists.
to remake or make over, as in a different form:

to bring back; revive:

If celebrities, CEOs, athletes, and other people can do it, I can too.  When I began contemplating the whole concept of reinventing oneself I thought of a friend of mine I will call "B".  She always acknowledged her wild past, and over the past few years she has reinvented herself into a beautiful woman inside and out.  She has become this amazing mother who is committed to her family wholeheartedly.  She posts all kinds of inspirational things daily on social media and offers food for thought that shows how much she's grown all the while challenging others to do the same.  I admire her so much and she's my inspiration.  I will never be her though.  I can only be me.  But who the heck am I??   And how do I find her??

For starters, I am ready to forgive myself for past mistakes.  I am by no means the same person I was and I've apologized to a lot of people from  my past because I truly was, and am, sorry.  It's definitely true that we are hardest on ourselves.  I know this because I am my worst critic and I judge myself so severely to the point that it's borderline bullying.  So, I am ready to let go.  I have to for my sanity and for my future.  How can I become better if I am still clinging to this past that makes me so upset?  No more.  That Andrea no longer exists.  I release her and move on.  Clean slate.  

The next thing I already did was order some herbal supplements to help me get this depression and anxiety under control.  I am very anti prescription meds so this is the only way.  I am ready to acknowledge my depression and anger, something I've always refused to do, and deal with it head on.  No more withdrawing from others, wallowing in self pity, and acting out with rage because my emotions are out of control.  I do yoga every day and hike in the woods, which help, but I have made a promise to start meditating regularly again and to practice acts of calm and silence over my typical quick reactions.  I used to be the essence of calm and wonderfulness.  I'm ready to get back there again.

The one thing I notice that is no longer in my life is working with animals.  It brought me so much peace and happiness.  Our landlords have a small farm down the street from us and they have agreed to let me help out on their farm whenever I want.  I can even bring my son with me.  At least once a week I will surround myself with farm animals, get dirty, and perform the hard labor that I oddly enjoy.  I am so excited.  

I will no longer define myself.  No more shoving my medium abilities down people's throats.  No more shouting from the rooftops that "I am this" and "I am that".  Who cares what I am??  I don't have to define myself.  I refuse to let my lack of a career and college education dictate who I am.  It has no leverage on who I become as a person.  I have so many things that I could use to define me but why do I have to define myself in the first place?  When I die I don't want to be remembered by what I did for a living.  "Andrea was a veterinary technician." or "Andrea talked to the dead."  No way.  I want to be remembered for being a good person, someone that would give the shirt off their back to anyone that needed it, and for my kindness, compassion, and big heart.  I want to be remembered for being a great mom, wife, and friend.  (I'm a terrible friend, something I desperately want to improve on).  That's the legacy I want to leave.  None of the other stuff matters. 

I've learned that this process doesn't happen over night.  It will be a daily process.  I'm ok with that.  Just like everything in life, this will be an adventure.  I will wake up each morning ready to tackle the day with a new outlook and a willingness to do better at each turn.  I find that exciting. 

The whole concept of reinventing myself may seem silly but to me it's important.  When we get so lost in our daily lives that we forget to be ourselves (or what that even means anymore) it's crucial to get back to that place.  I am determined to be the person I know I am; the kind, compassionate, loving, calm hippie girl that hugs strangers, kisses animals, and would run naked out in the rain if I could.  I'm inside there somewhere.  I just have to exorcise myself to pull that crazy girl out.  It's going to be painful.  It won't be easy.  It's going to suck at times.  But I've never been so commited to something in my life.  I want to be a wonderful mother, a loving wife, an amazing friend, a sweet and fun stranger to meet on the street, and I want to be so full of love, happiness, and kindness that I inspire others to smile and be the same.  That is the essence of who I was, who I want to be, and who I will be.  I will get there one day.  And when someone asks me how I did it, how I became the person I was destined to be, I will tell them I reinvented myself just like Robert Downey Jr. ;-)

Thank you for reading my blog.  

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