Thursday, August 24, 2017

Loving Myself

I'm ugly.
I'm fat.
I'm worthless.
I don't deserve to be happy.
I'm not important.
What's wrong with me?
I hate myself.

We all have something we don't like about ourselves and want to change. I think we all at some point have had at least one of these thoughts I listed above, but for me I had them all. I had a lot taken away from me with four years of sexual abuse when I was younger. My self esteem and trust in others were the two big ones. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and had all these thoughts for many years which also had a major negative impact on my life through the majority of my young adult life. The abuse happened between the ages of 12-16, but I didn't seek any type of professional help and counseling until I was 29. So all those years I did my best to block it all out and just forget that it ever happened, except it's not that easy. Of course by the time I was almost 30, all these negative thoughts I had about myself I truly believed were true and suffered severe depression. I limited my interactions with people and shut people out, as well as who I would be friends with. I didn't allow too many people into my life due to trust issues as well as fear of being hurt. I also know I missed out on many good friendships and relationships because of this as well.

So I'm 29, depressed and crying at the drop of a hat, and going off on everyone at work. My boss calls me into his office asking what's wrong with me. After several times telling him nothing, I finally confided in him and it was the first time I told anyone about it outside my parents. For 13 years I tried to block all of it out, but as I started to turn 30 I realized how much I missed out on life and I never even allowed myself to even have a real relationship. I was scared once I told him of what he would think, but I was surprised when he supported me in making sure I got the help I needed. He convinced me to see a counselor, and then within a couple weeks of counseling I was seeing a psychiatrist to manage my anxiety and depression medication. At first I thought, it's been 13 years since the abuse stopped, it's too late to get help. I've already missed out on so much, quit college, and was working two jobs just so I could stay busy so I wouldn't have to interact with people. But, I'm so grateful I took that major step because that's when I took my life back. After two years of counseling I had really come a long way. I no longer felt guilty, or felt I did anything wrong, I knew I deserved to be happy and have good people and things in my life, and more importantly I knew I was no longer allowing him or my past to control me.

So, I was in a better place and decided to go back to college. I went back and earned my associates and my bachelors in business management. And with just a few months left before graduating I realized I was 350 pounds because eating is how I dealt with my emotions and stress. So in March of 2011 I hired a personal trainer. The first time I met Michael Watkins, owner at Fitness Together I was scared, but knew I needed professional help. I showed up to my consult, committed to the minimum package of three months because I didn't think I would even last that long, and here I am over six years later. In that time I've lost a total of 153 pounds, have had a small set back but still no where near where I was at and getting it back off, and I'm the healthiest I've ever been. I just mentioned this the other day that I went in there to hire a personal trainer, but I feel God led me there and blessed me with friends and another family. Michael has actually become one of my mentors and has been the best one I've ever had. Sometimes when he's giving me advice it's pretty straight forward, maybe some cuss words to enhance what he has to say, but I know what he's telling me is what I need to hear and it's truly because he does care. And to be honest that's why I respect him, his advice, and what makes him a great leader. I've learned so much between my past years of counseling and having him as a mentor.

But, despite all the counseling, and even though I'm still 200% in a better place in life than I was in 2013 when I started seeing a counselor, the memories never truly go away and things pop up from time to time that are difficult to deal with. Things from time to time trigger these feelings and memories, and even though they aren't easy to deal with, I do handle it a lot better than I used to. I don't shut down, but instead I reach out to someone to talk to and then I face it and deal with it. It's not easy, sometimes lots of tears and anger comes back up, but at least I'm not ignoring it and hoping it goes away because trust me it won't.

Just recently I've struggled with the memories being triggered, causing bad dreams and being emotional and trying to stay positive. Earlier this week I talked with Michael and I had mentioned how I have an analytical mind, but my heart isn't. It's very emotional. I told him I wished I didn't care as much or wish I didn't have feeling and life would be a lot easier. Then he said something that I've been meditating on for a couple days. He said I shouldn't wish those things and that even though what I went through was bad it still made me the person I am today. It's made me caring and compassionate for others because I don't want to see people hurting the way I did. I want to see people happy, healthy, and loving themselves.

So, as I'm reflecting on all this I started to think about where I used to be and where I'm at in life now. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better, because I have been blessed with amazing friends and family who have supported me and been there for me when I need them the most.

So now when I look in the mirror I no longer have those negative thoughts, but instead I say to myself......

I'm ugly.     I'm beautiful.
I'm fat.     I'm fit and healthy.
I'm worthless.     I'm worth everything.
I don't deserve to be happy.     I deserve to be happy.
I'm not important.     I'm the most important person in my life.
What's wrong with me?     I'm awesome.
I hate myself.     I LOVE MYSELF!!!!!!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

August 2017 Challenge

Here is the challenge I'm starting this coming Tuesday, August 1st. Click on the image to enlarge for better viewing. If you would like me to email you the challenge, just message or email me. I'm doing this challenge in conjunction with another challenge I accepted with another group. They will go good together so hopefully the month of August I will have some good results.

Monday, July 24, 2017

What's A Hero?

What's a hero? A hero is defined by Merriam-Webster as "A person admired for achievements and noble qualities. One who shows great courage."

When we are asked, "Who are your heroes?" I believe we tend to immediately think of those who have been there for us when we needed them the most and who taught us life lessons. For me personally the people that come to mind first are my parents, grandparents, and my friends/mentors Michael, Pastor John, and Pastor Scott.

But, what about those heroes who aren't there for you, but their achievements, noble qualities, and their great courage touch your life? What about those heroes who you have never met, or have met just a few times, yet they touch your life and inspire you in some way? For me these heroes are little, but mighty, and they are our Wrestling For A Cause (WFC) kids. WFC is about helping kids who are fighting cancer and about raising awareness to childhood cancer. WFC is getting ready to celebrate 6 years and we've helped so many families in this time, and I'm proud to say I've been a part of it in some way for over 4 years now. I started coming as a fan, to watch the wrestling and just support the cause. But, since January 2016 I've been more involved by being their ringside photographer. Not only am I more involved with the cause and helping them out, but it got me more involved with the families. I'm getting the opportunity to get to know the kids and the families on a more personal level.

All of the kids are my heroes. The way they fight and the great courage they show as they battle day in and day out this horrible disease that's called cancer. Today I found out this morning Princess Aaliyah earned her angel wings at 4:43 AM, and as hard as it is on me, I still can't imagine how hard it is on the parents, families, and friends of these kids who have been there their whole lives. This past year four of our heroes earned those angel wings, but we have many kids still fighting. And in honor of those who have been taken away from this world way too soon, I will continue to fight for them and with other kids by being a part of WFC and doing my part to help these families and raise awareness to childhood cancer.

You have all touched many lives, including mine, and are an inspiration to many! These kids and their legacy will live on forever through their families, friends, and people like me. People who will continue the fight for them.

RIP and fly high Aaliyah, Jasmine, Kai, and Luther. You are loved by so many!

Aaliyah and her daddy Rod
Jasmine (right) with Maddie who is still fighting

Me with Kai and his daddy Gary