2017 has been a year of change, self-questioning, and self-discovery.
When I first started my blog in June, I knew it would be a good outlet for my writing hobby; I also knew that I wanted to open myself up to people in a way that rarely happens face to face. I wanted to be honest about life, the ups and downs. Today, I’m writing about something that I’ve told very few people about. My “2017 Story” is something that I feel I need to share and put out there for others to see. It’s about the things I felt and the struggles I went through, the same issues everyone deals with.
So, let’s get to it: I dealt with a lot of loneliness this year. A lot of missing family, a lot of not knowing where I fit in, just a lot of feeling alone. I had lots of questions running through my mind, lots of lies that I was telling myself, lots to work through. Some of the lies I told myself were things like, “you care too much”, “you should be able to fix this”, “you’re so needy no one wants to be around you”, “you take things too personally, you’re too sensitive”, “you are a problem”, “no one misses you”. It scares me to write about these lies, but I put them out there because I know I’m not the only one who hears them. These are fears that have grown up with me since I was a child; I truly believe that there is power in naming these fears as lies.
It’s hard for me to look back and think that I accused myself of caring too much and being too sensitive because those qualities are basically the core of who I am. I found myself not understanding why these thoughts were plaguing me out of the blue; at the time I had no idea, but looking back I can see what caused me to hear those thoughts. I felt out of place, there was change happening in my life that I wasn’t acknowledging, and I was really missing the people closest to me. For months, I tried to fix all the things in my life that were making me feel hurt; I remember the night I realized that all my trying to fix things was doing no good and that I needed to let go of the lie that I had believed: I honestly thought I was capable of fixing people, fixing myself, and fixing the hurt I felt. I cried a lot that night, realizing that as much as I wanted to make other people happy and in turn make myself happy, sometimes I just couldn’t do it. Once I finally realized that, I was able to better understand who “adult Haeleah” is.
I struggled with knowing who cared about me versus who had moved on. I couldn’t understand why some people distance themselves from the people that love them. I struggled with knowing my worth. I felt replaceable. Knowing that how I felt was unhealthy, I told myself I needed to be more thankful, I needed to keep a list of gratitudes, I needed to reevaluate my relationship with God.
So, in June I began memorizing one Bible verse each week. One of the verses that helped me the most was Psalm 94: 18 & 19.
This verse comforted me so much, knowing that God understands the hard things we go through in life and that He is always there to support and console us.
Another thing I began to realize was how much of my worth I was finding in others’ opinions of me; not just their opinions, but also how much they spoke to me, how much time they spent with me, etc. Finally, I realized that I was looking for my worth in places that could never satisfy me; I was trying to fill a lonely space, a space where only God belonged.
Something I had to come to terms with was the fact that I am not in control, I cannot fix everything that is broken; I can only accept and move on by claiming control of my own actions. I cannot fix everything, but I can be a friend, an encouragement, and a comfort. I had to remind myself that God wants good things for me, that He is my only source of hope, joy, and peace.
This was a really rough year, partly because I had a lot going on, but also partly because I held a lot of this inside. What I’ve written above is something I haven’t shared with anyone, because all this has really only become clear to me lately as I deal with and work through everything. Jake knew I was struggling and a few friends came along side of me and helped me find answers to some of the really difficult questions I was asking. Although I haven’t been shy about saying that 2017 has not been the best year, I have been hesitant to get into what made it such a rough year because it’s very personal. Looking back on the past 12-15 months, I have a greater appreciation and respect for Jake. He’s been amazing throughout all of this. He has become my very best and closest friend; he has listened to me work through issues, has shown me the truth when I knew it but didn’t know if I could believe it unless I heard someone else say it. He encouraged me through the rough semesters and found ways to distract me from the stress that was overwhelming me. He comforted me while I battled loneliness, hurt, and hard questions. This man held me every time I cried about the same issue I’d been dealing with for months, never telling me to “get over it”, “move on”, or that I am “too sensitive” and take things “too personally”. I’ve never been so vulnerable with anyone in my life and our marriage and friendship has grown so much because of that. As much as I think that I’ll look back on 2017 and associate it with a lot of hard decisions and difficult situations, I hope I look back on it and remember how all the hard stuff brought us closer. Not just us either, I now have more confidants and friends that I’m able to open up to because they were kind enough to care about me when I was not at my best.
This has been more of a sad post, and I don’t want to leave anyone feeling depressed after reading through all of this! Today, I am a happier, healthier person than I was a year ago. Because of everything that happened in 2017, I know better who I am, what I consider important, what I am willing to sacrifice versus what I choose to fight for. This has been a year of claiming ownership of my emotions, taking control of my happiness; you’ll never be happy if you wait for other people to make you happy. Joy isn’t something others can constantly give you, it’s something you have to choose for yourself and keep choosing every day. I really stress self-care because it’s a big step in the direction of taking control of your own happiness. 2017 in a way was a blessing; I was blessed with closer relationships with people I go to church with, a closer relationship with Jake, friends at school that keep me laughing, and a better understanding of who I am. I remember thinking to myself earlier this year, “God, why is this struggle lasting so long? Why can’t I move on yet?” I didn’t know it was going to take an entire year, but the longer I struggled, the more I prayed, the more answers I searched for, the closer I came to God, finding answers, and eventually peace.
In summary, I’m happy! I know who I am; I have a husband that loves me, looks out for me, protects me, and cares for me better than I have ever been cared for; I have friends that care about me, spend time with me, check-in on me, and keep me laughing; I have a wonderful family; I have a deeper understanding of who God is and how much He loves me.
So there it is, friends; I've put it out there for all the world to see. My life isn't perfect and I'm not perfect, but God is and He knows everything and is in control. In the best and the worst of times, He is with us and always loves us. Happy (almost) New Year!!!