Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018

Wow.

2017. 

As a whole, I hated this year. But that's mainly because of a bigger picture issue that started in May/June.

When I really think about it, 2017 wasn't half bad. 

Hayley was baptized in January.
I graduated from ASU with a bachelors degree!
We dove into foster care with our sweet Yaya and since then, have been taking a break due to the 'bigger picture' issues mentioned above. But hopefully, 2018 will bring with it more children into our home that need us.
Hayley chopped almost ALL of her hair off!
Hayley also made Company at her dance studio.
I started teaching dance again in July at the same studio.
We were surprised and blessed with a new van in July---and with it, a stability that was something I hadn't even realized would bring so much comfort to my heart.
Andersen was baptized in October.
Andersen also landed an ensemble role in The Lion King play and will perform at the end of January.
We were able to go to Carlsbad twice.
Andersen tested into the 94th percentile nationally in reading and writing at school.
Hayley got her aerial and a round-off back handspring (and she's super close to her back tuck)!
I got to spend this second half of the year focusing on my kids while taking a break from my schooling.

So many amazing blessings came to our family this year. 

And it truly would've been a near-perfect year without those dumb 'bigger picture issues' clouding my brain and making this year feel darker than it actually was.

I have had moments of doubt and despair this year, as I've considered how our family situation will change in 2018. I have let fear and anger control me and have relied on my family and friends to talk me through those hardest moments where I don't feel like I can continue to be brave.

But through it all, I am stronger. Through it all, I am learning so much about myself.

And because I want to have gratitude for the good intertwined in those darkest hours, here are some things that the 'bigger picture issues' have taught me: 

I have kept my 2017 goal of being more present with my children. I have tried to make this year a year of making memories, teaching/practicing patience, listening more and talking less. I have realized just how precious every moment with my children is and have tried so hard not to take our time together for granted.

I have grown closer to my parents and have a deeper sense of appreciation for everything they do to support our family. I have felt the love they have for me and for my children in a completely new way this year.

I have learned more than ever how to deal with my anxiety. I definitely still have panic attacks. I definitely still get knocked down with feelings of fear. And I definitely still thank God for the creation of Zoloft. But I have learned how to help those feelings leave quicker. I have learned to talk myself down when I am scared about the future and I have learned how to stand up for what I believe in, no matter how scary it feels.

I have prayed more and have drawn closer to my Heavenly Father---knowing that if there is not a good outcome when all of these 'bigger picture issues' are decided, I will need to rely on Him to help me through.


I was praying a few weeks ago about what my next steps should be in life. I wondered if God was going to give me something to focus on in 2018 like He has in the past. Because this is certainly shaping up to be a big year and it is starting with our family facing some significant challenges.

I didn't want to pick another synonym for "brave", although that was exactly what I needed in years past and is honestly something I still remind myself of daily. I wanted it to be something different, something with a more clear purpose. I wanted to be able to set a goal with a path that I could work on periodically throughout the year.

He didn't answer me right then but a few days later, after speaking with a family member, I knew exactly what I needed to focus on in 2018. I knew what path I needed to follow, a path I had been avoiding for years because I was scared of the final outcome and honestly wasn't sure I could succeed in finishing.


The word I've chosen for 2018 is
Forgiveness. 

I have decided to start the LDS church's 12-step program and really dive into those pieces of my life that are still painful and have not been easy to let go.
I've attended these addiction recovery meetings before but only ever as an ex-wife needing support. I have never attended them while having my main focus be how I can improve and let go of the past.
*And although it might sound weird to start an addiction recovery program when I want to focus on forgiveness, the LDS's 12-step program is so much deeper than just recovering from an addiction. It is for everyone. And I have faith that if I work this program through all 12 steps, my life will be changed for the better.


Although I have been adamant over and over that I have forgiven my ex-husband for leaving our family, I think I've always held onto this tiny piece of anger that still flares up from time to time.
Yes, what my ex-husband did was hurtful and traumatic for myself and for our children. And I think I've been afraid that if I don't hold onto some piece of anger toward him, everything that I went through during our divorce would be negated.

And those painful memories are ones that are almost sacred to me. They teach me and remind me and they were very real. And I have always been worried that if I down-play everything that's happened in the past 10 years, I'll just be left with being the crazy single mom who has anxiety.

So I'm working to truly forgive and let go of all of the hurt surrounding my marriage and divorce.

I have also been holding on to some deep-rooted hurt feelings toward a group of people whom I used to call friends. Mostly for the same reasons---if I let go of those feelings, is it like they never happened in the first place? Because some of those traumatic events left me feeling worthless and completely devastated.

I had a really painful experience this past week that revolved around those friendships ending and I realized just how much I need to let that go because the only person it is hurting now is me.

Super profound, right?
{You'd think by now I'd just trust the things I was taught as a young child in Sunday School...}

But I think the person I need to forgive more than anyone else is myself.

Because in both of these situations, and in many others, I have made decisions that were not the best ones I could've made. I hurt people---and I hate hurting people.

I let fear or anger or hurt feelings drive my decisions in how I handled the situations I was put in.

And that is not the type of person I want to be.

I've blamed myself for ignoring red flags, not knowing better, being young and naive, not being good enough, not being compassionate enough, etc. And when I find myself in darkness, it is easy to hate myself and blame all of the hard things in my life on my decisions and actions.

I hold a lot of anger toward myself and most of the time, I don't even realize it. So in 2018, I'm going to dig in and figure out how to let that all go. Because I deserve to be treated well and loved---especially by the person staring back at me in the mirror.


On top of forgiving, I have a few other goals I'd like to be accountable to.

Although I improved this past year in some areas, I lacked in others.

I made a goal to be more organized and that one became a joke as I struggled just to deal with my anxiety. So because I am praying the end to those anxious feelings will come in a week or two, I am re-making the goal to be more organized. I want my house to feel like our home more than it ever has before. I want it to be cozy and calm and inviting of the Spirit. I want less chaos and more peace.
Going along with that, I am going to cook more this year. I did amazingly well this past year and cooked more than I ever have before (which was still am embarrassingly low number) and this year, I plan on showing my kids that the natural question is actually "What are we going to eat for dinner?" and not "Where are we going to eat for dinner?" . 
I made a goal in 2017 to attend the temple once a month and that did not happen. In fact, about mid-February, I pulled the reigns back on the religion thing and then started to ease myself into it from there. Because going back to a religion I left was harder than I had anticipated it would be. But it's now been a year and I'm pushing along each and every day. So 2018---more temple attendance. Because I like that place.
And going along with that goal, I am making a goal to keep asking questions in 2018. Because it seems that when I stop asking questions, my testimony gets halted and stagnant. I want 2018 to be a strong year and so, when I don't understand something or agree with it, I will speak up and ask the people I trust to help me better understand this church I love so much.

2018 is going to be a good year because I plan on making it a good year. 

I have already proven to myself that I am capable of greatness this year and I plan to continue that throughout the year.


As a last sidenote, if you were a part of our lives in 2017, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. We were so blessed and supported this past year and really felt the prayers and strength you gave to us when we needed it most.