As it is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, I thought that I would take the time to reflect on everything that I am thankful for: my Cubby, my husband, my family and friends, my health, my home, my intellect, my exceptional dancing abilities (lol!).. I could go on and on as there is so much to be grateful for. However, while I am giving thanks for all of the good things in my life, I also wanted to reflect on the idea of being forgiving. In particularly, us women being forgiving of ourselves. I know this may seem like a strange topic, but it has been particularly prevalent in my life recently and it has led me to see how unforgiving I have been towards myself. It has been six months since the miscarriage of Baby Strawberry. About a month after it occurred, I got to the point where I felt disgusted with my physical appearance and my health. I had extra weight on me (from the pregnancy), looked tired and rundown, I had developed a stye in my left eye (which I later discovered was an infection called blepharitis), I had a chronic cough, sinusitis, and was having difficulty digesting foods as my hormones and digestive system had been thrown off. I felt depressed and anxious (understandably due to the experience I had gone through coupled with the “wonky” hormone situation).
Instead of being forgiving towards myself, I was looking in the mirror and hating who I was seeing. I was extremely hard on myself and wanted to bounce back to looking as I did before I had gotten pregnant. I had given myself a four month deadline to lose the weight and start feeling better. Of course, that was not realistic (though I did not realize it at the time). I hired a personal trainer and was seeing her for an hour five days a week. Although I did start to feel stronger, my weight and size did not change. Once again, I was upset and frustrated as to why I was not losing any weight thinking: “If I work out harder”, “If I do more cardio”, “If I wake up earlier and start exercising”.. many “If I’s” went through my mind. I did not realize that my hormones were all over the place and no matter how hard I tried, the weight was not going to go anywhere. But an even greater realization that I only made recently was WHO CARES? I know that sounds funny, but seriously WHO CARES? Was my husband going around telling people that I was fat and disgusting? (Not that I am aware of). Was my daughter going to her daycare and telling her teachers that I was fat and disgusting? (Not that I am aware of). Were my friends and family telling me that I was fat and disgusting? (Again, not one of them verbally told me that). Instead, everyone was very supportive and encouraging and they were telling me to give myself time, be gentle with myself, and to relax and heal from the ordeal that I had just gone through.
I know at the time that they were telling me this and I could hear them saying it, but it did not sink in. All I kept hearing was my voice, the negative voice telling me that I was gross and I needed to lose the weight and that if I did not have a baby, then there was no reason to keep the extra pounds. It was a horrible place to be in both mentally and physically. Although the miscarriage did cause some great life changes such as my being able to spend uninterrupted time with my daughter, my changing jobs, my re-evaluation of my schooling and Masters program (which has been put on hold for a year), it also lead me into a downward spiral of despair, anxiety and fear. Why had this happened? Why had my body failed me? Did I cause it to happen?
During the past month, changes have continued to occur. I had started the new job as a contractor for a private company and while I loved the company, I was grappling with the balance of working for myself and spending time with my daughter. My clients, lawyers and adjusters were calling and emailing all of the time, even during evenings and weekends. While I was trying to separate my work and home life and maintain some sort of balance, I was starting to fail at both. This was causing more anxiety and making me feel utterly incompetent. I know that it was only a month and that the first month of any job can be overwhelming, but I wondered if I would ever be able to turn work off at home and not look at my phone or respond to emails and voicemails. Then it happened. I was driving to go see a client one day when my phone rang. It was an HR representative from a company that I had applied to quite some time ago. They had contacted me when they had a temporary position; however I had only been interested in a full time permanent one. So, they ended up calling me and telling me that a full time permanent position had opened up and the best part of it all is that it is on my street, literally a 6 or 7 minute drive away!
I went for an interview, was offered the position three days later and agreed to it five days later. I know that some people who I have talked to have thought that I was crazy and unstable for switching jobs after only a month of being in a new position, but this one is set hours, no evenings or weekends, reasonable pay, and it is on my street. This is the first time that I will not have to commute to a job; I could actually walk there in the summer! I am feeling great about this decision and not to mention that I now have 5 weeks off until I begin this new job.
Getting back to the topic of being forgiving of yourself, this concept did not come to me easily or naturally. It came to me by listening to someone else critique herself. I have been doing some self development and taking a seminar series on Wednesday nights in Toronto. I have a great group and we do group calls once a week and support and coach each other through calls and emails. I went this past Wednesday and was sitting beside one of my group members. We were completing an exercise on what was working and not working in our lives and setting a new possibility for that area of our life. She had chosen health, wellness and nutrition and was talking about how she has let herself go since she had her daughter and how out of shape and disgusted she felt with herself. I was shocked. The person who she was describing was not the person who I saw or who I thought she was. I was frustrated that she was being so hard on herself. She had given birth and been caring for her daughter for the past year! So she did not have the time to exercise. But then she made this beautiful possibility for herself of accepting her body for having a baby and for being forgiving towards herself. It hit me like a ton of bricks. SHE WAS ME. I WAS HER. I had not seen this about myself prior to this interaction. I was so caught up in my own weight and health issues that I did not see how hard I had been on myself and my own body.
This insight has been amazing and transformative. It has led me to create new possibilities for myself and my life:
– Accepting my body for having a baby.
– Forgiving my body post miscarriage.
– Living a simplified life where I have ample time to spend with my daughter and pursue my creative interests.
– Being a creative and excited individual who is not bound by rules or traditions and is “unleashed” in life.
I know that there will still be good days and bad days and there will likely be some level of uncertainty and stress starting yet another new job in November, but I am feeling better prepared for dealing with my life. I know one thing is for sure, I will definitely be easier on myself and learn to become my own champion, instead of my biggest critic.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and practice being more forgiving of ourselves!