Friends, I think it's time to update you on where I am. My last post was pretty emotional, so for anyone out there still reading, I want to say what's going on now. Your comments, whether written on the blog or sent in cards, stated over the phone or expressed in hugs, have made a difference, so I owe you.
After the last post, I have started seeing a counselor. For me, I think that's just a healing mechanism that helps because I need another person (who is not also a friend or family member) to help me sort through my thoughts. I don't want to say much about counseling, but I need to acknowledge that as the first step in the path towards self-love.
Since seeing a counselor, I have started finding those inner truths about myself again. Truths like I am a good person, I am lovable, I am valuable, and so on. Some days I still find it hard to believe those statements outright, no questions asked, the same way I believe that the Book of Mormon is true and that we have prophets on the earth today. But I'm better at not resisting the Spirit that affirms that to me and casting out those truths with my unbelief.
I've also made friends with a few new truths. I'm not perfect at practicing them yet, but they feel like core parts of who I am and how I find happiness in each day. This is what I've discovered:
1. I feel better about me when I spend time on my hair.
I kind of hate admitting this because for so long I mostly acknowledged only the other side of this truth: I resent having to spend time on my hair. There are just so many other things I could be doing, and sometimes doing my hair involves an hour of holding a blow dryer, a round brush, and a flat iron. I could be reading or visiting a museum or going to a play.
But, as much as it pains me to say it, I just feel better longer on any day when I spend time on my hair. Maybe it's because I can look in the mirror and say, "I like me, and I did something that proves I like me today." Heaven knows I haven't had any men to impress the last few months. But that's another part of it: I've realized I want to do my hair FOR ME. Not because it will make me pretty enough to attract a spouse, but because it will help me think I'm pretty JUST FOR ME.
2. Reading gives me more pleasure than bingeing on Netflix.
I don't dislike Netflix or other forms of TV, movies, or streamed content. I haven't even stopped doing those things. I still do them a lot, but I've started replacing some of the time I spent with those entertainment sources with the written word.
It feels so joyful. My brain just works better when I spend time reading, and there is so much to read. Already this year I've read almost as many books as I read last year. It's not really about the number, but it's about realizing that spending time between pages fills my soul in ways that watching TV does not. I'd forgotten that. I'm glad I remember now.
3. Working out gives me a boost too.
This is kind of the same as hair. You just can't read when you're working out. Or so I thought. Plus, for me, working out was just a reminder of awkward junior high and high school days in gym. I didn't like those classes because I couldn't get ahead by studying. I had to physically perform the tasks, and I never felt good at that, so I stayed away. And, I used to think it was similar to doing my hair. You can't read or do whatever else when you're getting sweaty. I've since discovered that those things can be a part of exercise.
Working out is better now because I can do it on my own terms. It's also better because I don't feel like I'm in the middle of a popularity contest where people are deciding whether I'll succeed in life based on whether I make a basket, hit a home run, or run a certain pace.
I try to go to the gym several times a week, but I don't beat myself up if I don't make it as much as I "should" have. I also don't work out to lose weight, although that has happened a little here and there. Again, that's like the hair. I used to think "I need to work out so I can be skinny so boys will like me." In order to feel better, I need to sever that belief. Instead, I say, "I want to go work out so I will get a mental jolt and feel healthy FOR ME." And, now that it's warmer, I sometimes get to swim for my workout, which is the best. Nothing clears my mind like swimming a few laps.
Friends, this isn't everything I've learned so far, and as I said above, there are still hard moments. Sometimes I still feel paralyzed by the thought that some of my fondest dreams are beyond my control and might not come to me in this life. But I've also come to realize a little better that having those things won't change who I am or make me more valuable. I need to work on this now because that's the moment I'm living. Come what may, I need to love me and know that the best sources of love are Divine--capitalization intentional.
In those moments, I find strength in a few sources. I think about Elder Bednar's talk "The Windows of Heaven," where he taught that the Stripling Warriors prayed for deliverance and received assurances and that was enough to carry them to victory. I think about the assurances the Lord has sent me. I can't describe them here because they are far too personal, but they come from the Spirit, and they have been numerous.
I also spend a lot of time thinking about women I love. There's my own mom, the righteous version of Lorelai Gilmore. There's my beautiful sister, a perfect blend of Grace Kelly's elegance and her own intelligence. I think about my grandmother, who gave me my love for reading.
Quite often, I think about my dad's mom, Paloona May Brown Sorensen, for sure my best friend on the other side of the veil. I think about how she was still single at the age I am now and how she held strong, hoping in Christ for a covenant marriage and an eternal family. I think about how we share some of the same health challenges and how she comforted me before and during the early phases of that trial. I think about how she's doing the same now and what that means for eternity.
This has gone on for a while, but that's the truth I feel in this moment. I love you all. Good day and good news.