Life Lessons from 2017

Life Lessons from 2017

2017 turned out to be one hell of a year.

I think it was probably my most transformative year of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself, dug deep, waded through the mud, figured out a lot of stuff, worked through some tricky things and came out the other side.

My first year as a single Mama, and even as a single woman, the freedom to be myself has been amazing. I’ve relished answering to no one, being able to shape my life exactly as I want it to be, and creating a life I love. It was a year of highs and lows, the heartbreak of 2016 broke me apart, and I’ve had to re-examine every part of me. I’ve learned some lessons the hard way, but ultimately, whether good or bad, everything that happened last year has made me a better person.

So here goes, I’ve no idea where to start as there has been so much I have learned last year, but here are some of the biggest take-aways from 2017….

Lesson 1: It’s okay to walk away from people

After years of staying in a marriage because I was too afraid to leave, finding the courage to end it showed me that it’s okay to be selfish. To do what is best for me – no more people pleasing. I cut contact with my Mother, something I’ve done briefly in the past, but gave in to the societal guilt and re-instigated contact. Over a year on since I made the decision to cut her out of my life for good, and I know it is the right decision for me and my family. Too many years of emotional neglect, too many incidents over the years, a huge betrayal as a small child, for me, she is a toxic person, and I have spent far too many years allowing toxic people into my life. I feel so much lighter without the burden of trying to keep a relationship going that I really didn’t want.

Lesson 2: I am stronger than I think

In the aftermath of my marriage break-up, and throughout the months of fighting with my depression and anxiety, people kept telling me how strong  I was. At the time I couldn’t see it, I felt weak and hopeless and broken. Looking back, even in my darkest days I never gave up. I kept {most} of the balls rolling, the kiddos were loved, hugged, clean, fed, the house was tidy{ish}, homeschooling still got done, I managed to keep on working to support the five of us… sure there were times I stayed in my PJ’s for days on end, a few too many freezer meals… but everything got done and the kiddos thrived. I’m realising now that I am strong…. that I can keep going, even through the hardest things life throws at me, that my super skill is never giving up. My stubbornness has some benefits after all!

Lesson 3: Writing is my therapy

I’ve always written, from teenage diaries to early blogs. 2017 showed me that my writing not only helps me but others. Writing my thoughts down helps me to process everything, clarifies it in my mind and eases the worries. At the same time, so many people have reached out after reading things I’ve written to say how much it has helped or inspired them. If writing is my therapy, then this year should be the year I achieve my dream of writing a book! Writing for me is an essential part of my days.

Lesson 4: You should always please yourself

There’s that saying ‘You can’t please all the people, all the time’. I’ve always been a people pleaser, too afraid to stand up for what I think, hence the terrible mother relationship, and the controlling marriage. Through my darkest times at the start of last year, there were some amazing friends on hand to offer support and advice. Yet, there is a difference between offering advice, and telling someone what they should do. Realising that the only way to be truly happy is to do what suits me, to take advice, yet be strong enough to know my own mind and what is best for me has had a transformative effect on me. The day I decided to be true to myself, instead of trying to make someone else happy, was the day that things turned around last year, and I finally felt like I was heading back up.

Lesson 5: There is no shame in admitting your weaknesses

After a lifetime of trying to keep a mask on all the time so that people would think I was ‘perfect’, I finally let that mask drop and opened up. Scary – but it’s proved to be vital. Being open and honest about my struggles with my mental health has been an eye-opener – not just to the number of other people who have similar struggles, but in that being 100% honest, in not trying to hide parts of me, I’ve connected with people so much better. When you’re trying to be someone you’re not, or not be someone you are, you end up keeping people at arm’s length – not an ideal basis for friendships. This year has shown me that people will still love me, weaknesses and all.

Lesson 6: Self Care is vital

I’m not talking about hot baths and early nights {though they help too!}. For me, 2017 was the year that I overhauled my lifestyle. I began practicing yoga at the start of the year, hoping to find some relief from the grip of anxiety and panic attacks. Then I began to add in some cardio, remembering how good it made me feel. I have a post planned soon talking more about my fitness journey and where I am at now, but personally, exercise has been the best medicine for my mental health – it soothes my anxiety, lifts my depression and makes me feel GOOD about myself. I also went vegan and cut out gluten and refined sugar for the most part after reading some interesting articles on the link between dairy, gluten and sugar and mental health. The combination of exercise and diet have totally changed how I feel physically and mentally.

Self-care for me is also boundary setting, saying no more, keeping my distance from friendships that aren’t healthy for me, balancing my days better, adding in things that make me happy – painting, crafting, reading….

Lesson 7: Just say F*@K it

When things have gone wrong, when I’ve messed up, when life gets hard, people let you down…. sometimes the best thing is just to say f*@k it and move along. No more sitting and dwelling, feeling bad, regretting things, moping and feeling sorry for myself. When it’s one of those days, I’ve mastered the art of a f@k it and I move on with my life.

 

What life lessons have you learned from 2017?

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