My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 37

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 37
70. Write a letter to someone you need to forgive

Dear Self,

I forgive you.  I forgive you for so many of the things that you have been feeling guilty  about for so many years.  I forgive you for all of those things that you have been holding in your heart that have been weighing  you down.  It’s time to let forgiveness start to heal you.  Only when you can forgive yourself will you be able to put all of these negative feelings behind you.

I forgive you for falling in love when it clearly wasn’t right.  If you were a stronger person, you would have not gotten caught up in the emotions and would have been able to see that you were going down a path that was not safe.  Not safe for your or any of the others involved.  Because you were not stronger, it caused (and still causes) so much pain.  I forgive you for being weak, but it’s time to learn from your experiences and move on.

I forgive you for staying in relationships that have caused more pain then happiness.  To many times in your life you have taken the easy road.  Even if it meant that you had to be unhappy while doing it.  You wasted a good deal of your life settling for mediocre because it was going to be to hard and to much work to try and make a change.  You deserve so much more then mediocre.  You are a good and kind person and settling for letting others treat you as if you are insignificant is not acceptable.  You tend to bend over backwards for others, and while you are doing that, they are walking all of you.   It’s time that others should value your importance and show it.  If they can’t, then you do not need them in your life.

I forgive you for not following through on the things that were important to you.  There were so many things you wanted in life, yet you didn’t have the strength or the courage to follow them through.  You gave up to easy and now you are finding that it’s to late to go back and fix any of that.  Luckily for you, life has turned out pretty well, so it is time to let go of the sadness for what you haven’t done and focus on the things that you can still do.  There are still so many things that you want to accomplish and now that you have learned your lesson about not giving up, I hope that you are able to see all of these things through.

I forgive you for being a difficult teenager and putting your parents through so much. They really are good people and there was a time when you caused them a lot of pain.  The pain in their eyes when you would tell them that you hated them and wished you could go live in a foster home is still burned in your heart.  It’s time to forgive yourself for those past mistakes.  You have done so much for them as you have all grown older.  You can never go back and take back things you have done or said.  The only thing you can do now is try and show that you never meant to cause the pain that you did.

I forgive you for never speaking up about being sexual abused.  Although at this point in life, it seems pointless to tell those that don’t already know what happened to you when you were a child, you still hold a lot of confusion and uncertainty in the fact that you never shared what was happening.  Could things have been different?  Would it have changed anything in anyway had you spoke up?  It’s time to let go of those feelings and accept that how you handled it was the best way you knew how at the time.

I forgive you for not learning to say NO when it was important to do so and for not saying YES when it was important to do so just because you were afraid.  How many  times in your life have you done something you didn’t want to do, just because you didn’t have the strength to tell someone no?  Or how many times have you missed out on something because you didn’t have the courage to say yes?  It’s impossible to know the impact on your life from making all of those choices.  How would life be different if you would have said yes on that one occasion?  Would saying no that other time have changed the course of your life’s direction?  You will never know.  And for that reason, it’s time to forgive yourself and not dwell on what could have been.

This letter is sent in hopes that you will soon learn to start forgiving yourself for the mistakes you have made in your life.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone has regrets.  The important thing to remember is that you have a beautiful heart that deserves happiness.  Beating yourself up over things that you cannot change will never give you true peace.

With Love,
Yourself

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 31

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 31
104. What have you accomplished in the last five years?

I am pleased to say that the past five years have been chalk full of accomplishments.  As a matter of fact, I would have to say that in the past five years, I’ve accomplished more then I have for the majority of my adult life.  My top accomplishments in the past five years?  Marriage, college graduate,  and my first trip to Europe.

It’s been about a year and a half now since the much anticipated wedding day.  I think our friends and family just assumed we would never get married.  We were together 14 years before we finally took the plunge into marriage.  I guess we just really wanted to make sure it was going to stick this time since we both made prior marriage mistakes.  Seriously though, to be perfectly honest, it never really seemed all that important to us and we rarely ever even spoke about marriage.  We were basically married already in all senses except for the piece of paper that said so.  However, one day we had a situation were he had some health issues and I ended up having to call an ambulance.  When the paramedics kept asking me if I was his wife and I had to say no (meaning I had no legal grounds to make any decisions for him), I think it was a trigger for both of us that just maybe it was time we made things legal.  I thought after 14 years together that being marriage would not really change anything… and it really didn’t change anything in our day-to-day life.  There was something special about being about to call him my husband verse boyfriend (it was always very awkward for me being in your 40’s and having to say “this is my boyfriend”).
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It’s been about 3 years now, but my other major accomplishment during the last five years was graduating college.  I think that is the accomplishment I am most proud of, mainly because I know all the hard work that it took to get to that piece of paper that is now hanging on my wall in the bedroom.  There were so many times I wanted to quiet.  I thank my husband all the time for his support because without it, I would have given up.  I was working full time and taking classes in the evening and doing homework all weekend.  To say it was challenging would be an understatement.  There were times when I would just be sitting there starting at the same page of a text book for half an hour because I just did not have the clarity and mental capacity to retain any information I was reading.  It was at these times I would end up breaking down into tears.  Which is where the support of my husband was priceless.  He would calm me down, make me laugh and also make me step back for a minute and take a break to regain my composure so that I could jump back in and get things done.  It was some of the toughest times of my life and yet some of the most rewarding at the same time.

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Last year I was able to take my first international trip.  My work sent me to France for a month to work in Paris office.  I am one of just a select few that have been offered this opportunity, so that in itself was a great accomplishment.  I know people travel to Europe all the time and probably don’t consider it an “accomplishment”.  Part of what makes this an accomplishment for me is that I have a HUGE fear of flying.  The longest I had ever flown up until that point was the 5 1/2 hours to Florida and Hawaii.  The thought of being on a plane for 11 hours was almost a deal breaker. Especially since I would be making the trip alone.  Anytime I am able to overcome a fear is always something I consider to be an accomplishment.  Being an introvert also posed some challenges to this trip.  Not being an extremely social person made this trip more of a challenge then someone who does not have social anxiety.  I don’t usually venture out and do things that are unknown to me when I’m in my own country… so you can imagine the fear of having to do that in a foreign country… all alone, without speaking the language.  That was a huge personal growth and accomplishment for me.
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Sometimes I worry that on a day to day basis, I am not accomplishing enough.  I get overwhelmed and often feel defeated by life.  This was a good topic because it forced me to step back and realize that I have accomplished a lot more then I often give myself credit for.  I think it’s important for us all to do that every once in a while.

 

 

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 30

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 30
342. Tell about a work experience

 

I started working and making my own money when I was 12, so I’ve accumulated a lot of work experiences over the years.  I recall one work experience that has stuck in my memory for the last 20+ years, so apparently it had a pretty big impact on me.

When I worked for Peerless Lighting Corp. when I was in my early 20’s, they thought it would be a good idea to send me to a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking course.   I had somehow managed to get away with doing very little speaking while I was in school.  I pretty much got away with sitting in the back of the class and rarely if ever speaking.   So imagine, an incredibly shy person, heading off to a public speaking class.. alone and afraid.  Although I had had many jobs throughout my junior high and high school years, this was actually my first “real” adult job, so I really wanted to do good and impress.  Whatever the expectations were from my employer in terms of what I would gain from this class, I’m sure if I would have been graded on my progress, I would have failed dramatically.

I still remember sitting in the parking lot out in front of the building where the class would be.  If I recall correctly, I believe it was a 4 or 5 week class, once or twice a week in the evenings after work.  Night one was torture before I even walked inside.  I sat in the car and felt horribly sick to my stomach (clearly anxiety).  I had a pounding migraine and was nauseated.  I’m one of those people that has to be on time though, so I managed to force myself out of the car and into the building.  The trauma started as quickly as the introductions.  Even something as simple as standing up and introducing myself in front of a group gives me a panic attack.

Each class was a different topic or variation on public speaking.  We had to stand and read something to the group, we had to do a group activity where we all gave a little “skit” and we also had to get up and give a presentation.  I was miserable the whole time.

I didn’t learn any public speaking skills from that course.  I was a terrible public speaker before the course and continued to be after the course (and still continue to be today), but it was during those classes that I did realize something about myself.  It was then that I realized that my fear for speaking in a group is so bad that I feel the need to go over what I’m going to say 100 times in my head before it’s my turn to speak. This includes something as simple as an introduction of myself.  Why does this realization matter?   It matters because it means that if I am not the first person to speak and I have to wait, I am not listening to ANYTHING that is being said by other people before me.  I still have this problem today.  If I am in a meeting and I know that I have a presentation that I have to give at a certain time, everything that comes before my presentation is a big blur, simply because I was so busy going over what I would be saying that I didn’t hear a word of whatever was being said during that time.  It is actually a pretty big problem because there are often times I really need to pay attention to what is going on, but my brain just won’t allow it.

So, do I have any takeaways from this course, or any other public speaking classes I’ve taken?  Only that I suck at public speaking.  I think there are just somethings that cannot be taught, even with continual practice.  Some people have the ability to speak with confidence and no anxiety.  Some of us just do not have that trait.  I do not enjoy public speaking.  As said by Dale Carnegie himself, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing”.  I can’t imagine there will ever be a day in my life where public speaking is “fun” to me, so changes of being successful at it are probably not in my cards.

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 28

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 28
136. What would have happened if you didn’t leave the house this morning?

If I had not left the house this morning, I sure would have been a happier and less stressed person!  I love being home, so the idea of not leaving the house sounds wonderful to me.  This is common for us introverts.  We love being home and love our alone time.

Let’s see.. what would have happened had I not left the house this morning?  First off I would have not gone to my doctor appointment this morning.  May not seem like a big deal, but I have not been to the doctor (for any reason) for almost 2 1/2 years.  I have some health issues that really should be monitored, so not seeing my doctor for such a long period of time is really not a good idea.  To be honest, the only reason I went today was because they refused to refill my blood pressure medication unless I came in to have my blood pressure checked.  On top of that, they said they were reluctant to refill my anxiety medication since it has been so long since they had seen me.  No anxiety medication is NOT an option.  So they played their hand by withholding prescription refills and I folded by finally making an appointment to go in.  I not only deal with trying to control high blood pressure and anxiety, but I also have an intestinal disease called Ulcerative Colitis.  It is an ugly disease and unfortunately is something I will have my whole life.  Luckily it goes into remission on occasion so I get some relief at times.  I am supposed to have a colonoscopy ever 2 years to have it checked.  I haven’t done that either.  Not good on my part.  On top of all of that, I also have a horrible problem with clenching and grinding my teeth in my sleep.  I’ve been doing this for about 10+ years.  At first, I was just having to deal with a bunch of broken teeth (nothing worse then walking yourself up from sleeping by chewing on part of your tooth you broke off).  I believe the crowns in my mouth from broken teeth are starting to out number the real teeth.  I try and wear a nightguard, but I have a gaging issue, so it’s a challenge.  I also grind and clench my teeth so hard while I sleep that when I am able to wear the nightguard, I end up biting right through it.  So, after so many years of putting so much pressure on my jaw and teeth, it is starting to effect other areas.  I now am experiencing ringing in my ears and I have intense and sharp pains in my neck and facial muscles.
After my one appointment with my doctor this morning, I left having 5 other appointments that are either already scheduled or will be scheduled shortly.  I have to go have my hearing and ears checked to make sure that the jaw clenching is not causing damage to my ears.  I have another appointment tomorrow with a “behavioral” doctor.  I’m not 100% sure what that is, but I guess it is someone who is going to help me to try and understand and control my anxiety.  Subconscious anxiety is what is probably causing my nighttime teeth grinding/clenching.  I am also going to go to physical therapy to try and help the pain in my jaw and neck.  I’ve done this before many years ago.  It is painful (they have to go inside the mouth and push on the muscles on both side of your jaw bone), but it does bring relief after it is all over.  I am also going later this week for complete blood work and last, I will be getting a call from the gastrointestinalogist to schedule my colonoscopy.  Uggg….. not looking forward to that.   Clearly had I not left the house this morning, I would have not taken care of all of these issues that definitely need attention.

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Other than the doctor appointment (and work of course), I also went to the post office to mail all of my EBAY sales from this past weekend.  I guess if I had not left the house, those people that purchased things would have to wait an extra day for their items.  Since we know people don’t like to wait for anything anymore (instant gratification), it was probably good I got that taken care.

When I first saw this topic, the only thing I could think was “well… nothing would have happened if I had not left the house this morning”.  Given some time to think about it, I guess I was wrong.  Important things do take place everyday, no matter how small they are.  So, as much as I would love to be a hermit and stay in my house and never leave, this was a good reminder of the importance of getting out and getting things done, even when we don’t want to.

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 21

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 21
258. What are some events that happened in your life that you wish you could relive or erase?

I wonder if there is a person that exists that hasn’t considered this question!  If asked, I would imagine almost all adults would be able to say that there was SOMETHING in their life they wish they could erase or go back and do differently.

For me, the list of things I wish I could erase is pretty large. Way to many things for just one blog post.  It is hard not to think about how life would be different if that one event could be erased.  The problem is, everything that has happened to me in my life has lead me to the place I am right now.  To erase any of the negative things could easily change the course of events that lead me to some of the most positive things in my life.  So it’s a much deeper question then one might imagine.

There is no doubt that I would erase the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. I can only imagine I would be a completely different person internally had that never had happened.  Who knows if that was a cause of my being the very introverted and horribly shy person I became.  Would I not experience so much of the anxiety that plagues me daily had that never happened to me?  I’ve been told by some therapists that my anxiety could easily be triggered by the need for control… control that I clearly did not have as a child while this was happening.  Regardless if I would have still ended up being a shy and introverted person or if it would have completely changed my personality, I would erase this from my life without a doubt.  The emotional and even physical pain it caused me as a little girl that has carried throughout my entire life would be an incredible thing to erase.  No little girl of age 4 should ever have to experience these pains.

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I’ve often thought that it would be great if I could erase some of my past relationships (specifically ex-husbands).   I’ve been married three times.  The first at age 17.  The second time when I was 27.  I finally after these two mistakes found the one person that I was meant to be with.  We have been together for over 15 years, but just married about a year and a half ago.  I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said there had not been times in the past where I wished both of those first two marriages could be erased as events from my life.  I have mixed emotions about that though.  Ultimately those relationships would help make me a stronger person when it came to understanding and knowing what I wanted in a spouse, so without those experiences, would I have ever been able to fully appreciate the happiness I have now?

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I’ve contemplated the other part of the question for a while now.  Is there any event in my life that I wish I could relive?  I cannot think of anything that would be worth reliving.  There have been some pretty fabulous events in my life, but I don’t feel that I would want to relive them.  I am happy with just living with the memories of them.

So, this question is a complex and complicated one.  It seems like it would be rather an easy question to answer, but the more you start thinking about how one change in your past would affect how other aspects of your life would also change, you have to wonder what would really be worth changing so you didn’t lose the good parts.

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 19

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 19
334. Around other people you are?

Around other people I am…..  awkward and quiet would probably be the best words to describe how I am around other people.  I am not sure if that is how other people view me, but that is how I am always feeling.  I would also say that around other people I am not my true self.  I’m actually a very silly, fun and easy going person when I am around those that I am exceptionally close to (which is just a handful of people).  Anyone outside of that small group of individuals never really gets to see the true me.  And that is really just sad.. because I am a very funny and enjoyable person.  🙂

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Over the years, I have seen improvements, only because I am getting better at hiding on the outside what is actually going on inside.  I will never be that one person in a group that controls the conversation or even makes an effort to contribute to a conversation.  However, I have gotten better at smiling and interjecting small bits of conversation here and there.

When you are a quiet person, this often gives you time to sit back and observe those around you a little more closely.  I always find it amazing to see the differences in people and how they are around others.  It makes me wonder if this is their “true” self, or if like me, they are projecting something outwardly that they are not really feeling internally.

I wonder if it is true what they say… that you “can’t teach old dogs new tricks”.  If that is the case, I don’t think there is much hope that I will ever feel comfortable, open and confident around other people.  I won’t give up on trying, but I just don’t imagine that I will ever be much more then I am now.  I guess that is okay.  We need all types of personalities in this world.  Imagine if EVERYONE was one of those that liked to be the center of attention.  No one would ever get a word in edge wise in any conversation.

My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 11

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 11
427. Were you ever in any school clubs
(speech, drama, etc.)?

Does cheerleading count as a club?  Hmmm.. I’m not really sure.  I guess since I didn’t really do much else in school, I’m going to go ahead and count it as a club so that I don’t feel completely sad writing about this topic.  Don’t get me wrong, cheerleading was great (and completely opposite of what you would assume an introverted and terribly shy person would do). What makes me sad is that I really WANTED to do more things but was just always to afraid to put myself out there.

I remember specifically that I desperately wanted to be in a school play.  I can’t sing or even act for that matter, so I’m not talking about wanting to try out for the lead role or anything.  Just merely being in the play as a background character would have been fine with me.  But as you can probably guess, I was always to shy and scared to tryout.  There was no way I would have ever been able to stand in front of people and speak while they all stared at me.  I would have rather covered myself with honey and lay next to an ant hole before I did something like that.  Putting it into perspective, I also NEVER EVER raised my hand in class, as that would require me to have to say words out load while everyone in the class looked at me.  Oh my.. just typing that gave me chills.

So, as I mentioned, I did however manage to tryout and make the cheerleading squad for my Sophomore and Junior year of high school.  Ask me how I was able to run out into the middle of the gymnasium completely alone and perform a choreographed cheer and I will tell you that I honestly have no idea.  I was apparently able to put my mind into a different dimension to get through.  Not that I wasn’t terrified through the whole process, but for some reason this was important enough to me to fight through the anxiety.  I believe it helped that outside of school, I was involved in all sorts of dance classes and big into gymnastics. That probably gave me the little bit of confidence I needed to at least attempt the tryout.

I had to chuckle when I say the prompt come up with this question.  Especially since it referenced “speech club”.  I think it goes without saying that I was never involved in any type of speech/debate/public speaking type of activity, but when I was working on my general ed courses in college, one of the requirements was speech class.  That was the worst semester of my entire 6 years of college (I went to college in the evening while working my fulltime job, so it did take me 6 years to complete).  Wait a minute, maybe speech wasn’t the absolute worst semester, the semester with the speech class is probably tied with another semester when I had to take statistics.  Both equally as painful, for different reasons.  I took an awful lot of anxiety medication during that semester taking speech.  It is beyond comprehension to me whey anyone would ever be in a speech club by choice!

If only I could go back in time knowing what I know now, my life sure would have been a whole lot different.  I would have raised my hand in class without the fear that I might have the wrong answer.  I would have tried out for that play and been a more outgoing and social person.  I had some great experiences in school and made some friendships that have stood the test of time, but I sure would like to try it all over again with a little less fear and a little more confidence in myself.

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 5

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 5
202. When’s the last time you made a new friend?

Making new friends for me has been a challenge since I was little.  I have always been incredibly shy and was never one to just go up to someone and start talking to them.  As I have gotten older, I find that I am not as shy (although still have those shy person tendencies), but the problem now is that I just have zero conversationalist skills.  I completely lack the ability to make small talk, which of course, makes it a challenge to make friends.  Reason being that just like when I was young, even now that I am older, people tend to misinterpret my quietness or my lack of speaking to being snobbish.  Which is as far from the truth as you can get.  In reality, I desperately WANT to talk and be a part of the conversation.  Frankly, I often just do not know what to say.

I have progressed some over the years and can hold my own if it comes to a brief conversation.  I’ve learned the basic questions to ask to engage conversations.  The issue tends to arise after I’ve asked the basic 4-5 questions I know to ask and the conversation then comes to a lull.  Then what?  Well, I tend to do whatever I have to do in order to escape the situation and retreat as quickly as possible.  This is clearly NOT the best means for making new friends.

This being said, this is why I tend to make friends and keep those friends for long periods of time.  My closest friendship was made almost 40 years ago.  We are still close to this day (as a matter of fact, she recently was ordained and married Don and I in 2017).  I also have friendships that I still cherish deeply, but we do not have consistent contact.  We may get together a few times a year, but the best thing is that every time, it’s like no time has passed.  You know those friends?  The ones that you will have for life even though you don’t necessarily see each or even talk that often.  Some of my other closest friendships are family members.  Those that I have known my entire life.  I have several cousins that I would consider some of my very best friends.  I’ve had other close friendships that have sort of faded away after many years of friendship for one reason or another, which does make me sad.

New friendships?  I am going to say the last time I made a “new” friend would have to be about 4 years ago.  This was about the time that Don and I started hanging out with a few of the guys from his work and their wives.  Over the years we have grown closer and I always look forward to when we get together.

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I find that I am just one of those people that does not need a large amount of friends.  I am very happy with my small group of friends and the bonds that we have formed.  I do not feel cheated or feel like I am missing out on anything.  I may not have 1000 followers on Instagram or 500 friends on Facebook, but that’s okay.  I am still perfectly content.

Pushing the Comfort Zone

baby-girl-shy-emotions-160477.jpegWhat do you do when you are terribly shy, but in order to be successful in your job, you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and pretend to be social?  That is what I am living through right now and to say it is challenging is an understatement.

Being social in an environment where the majority of people do not know me on a personal level is as painful to me as stabbing myself in the leg with a fork (which I am sometimes tempted to do so that I can have a legitimate excuse to exit said environment).  I am horrible at making causal conversation, so I end up forcing myself to try and engage with a few basic questions, and then the conversation dies… and there you stand… in awkward silence.  Every shy person knows what I am talking about.  Even worse then casual conversation is public speaking.  Tell me that I have to give a presentation next week and I will have an upset stomach and migraine headache everyday up until the presentation is done.

I’ve tried everything you can imagine to overcome this dreadful feeling.  I was a cheerleader in high school (in hopes that would make me feel more comfortable having attention placed on me), I took dance classes, public speaking courses and have read more books on “Being an Introvert” than I care to admit.  On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is so shy you cannot speak and 10 being one of those fortunate outgoing people that can strike a conversation with a perfect stranger in a grocery store check-out line, I would say I’ve grown from a 3 to maybe a 6 in all the years of trying.  Which sounds good, I mean, improvement is improvement right?  Yet, it is not helping me in my current career development.

Tonight there is a company team building dinner that I will be attending.  I have been sitting at my desk most of the day thinking of ways that I can make conversation with a variety of people that will be attending.  I’m drawing a blank.  I understand the importance of “networking”, but what good is trying to network if I cannot even hold up my end of a conversation?

I believe part of my problem is that I do not feel I’m smart enough or interesting enough to be worthy of talking about myself.  I am terrified of saying something that I deem to be unintelligent (even if others do not see it that way).  So I sit in silence.  I often think that people mistake my shyness for my being a snob, which pushes people to not want to engage with me.  When in reality, if you get to know me and I feel a sense of comfort, I will talk your ear off!

So now here I sit.  Trying to figure out how to get through tonight with a positive attitude and a big smile.  I guess the best I can hope for is that I do not suffer one of my famous panic attacks before the night has ended.