I Am Happy

In my last post, I said 3 words that I never thought I would say while living here – “I am happy.”

The depth of those words didn’t really resonate until a few days later. They weren’t just words. I AM happy – the happiest I have been in over a year – and it is wonderful.

When we first moved, I didn’t think it would be a walk in the park. But, I definitely didn’t think it would be as difficult as it was, either. And here I am – 1 year, 12 weeks, and 3 days later – stronger, more brave, and so much happier.

The realization of that happiness sparked something within me. I began doubting our decision for D to quit his job and us to move straight back “home.” The whole reason for moving back immediately was that I honestly didn’t think I could be happy ANYWHERE else. Since that wasn’t the case anymore, maybe we should explore a few other places first? Did we need to settle somewhere right now in order to have a community in the future? Do we need to live somewhere we want to raise kids, when kids are still multiple years down the road? I began to think about my reasons for wanting to move back to Virginia immediately, and with the question of happiness aside, the only thing I could come up with was that I am scared of losing my best friends. The same best friends who stayed by my side while I lived almost 4,000 miles away for over a year. The same best friends who have seen me through some of my bests and some of my worsts. The same best friends who I know love me unconditionally. What gave me any reason to question that living a little over 1,300 miles apart would suddenly change everything? Nothing. All of the worry, all of the doubt, it was all unnecessary. So, after a lot of talks and some tears, D and I have decided to put our move to Virginia on hold and give Texas a shot. I have no doubt that this will be another difficult move – it’s a transition, and transitions are hard. But, I now know that I CAN be happy in other places, and I will.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know when my mindset shifted. I assume it was gradual, but maybe it was sudden? All I know is that I HATED my life here, and now I don’t. I know that I wanted nothing more than to move right back to Virginia with my friends, and now waiting a little doesn’t seem so bad. As our time here draws to an end, I regret how unhappy I was, and I am sad to say goodbye to this chapter of my life. How much more could I have traveled if I had just been happier? How many more people could I have met if I didn’t let anxiety cripple me? How much more could I have grown if I had taken a step back and let myself live? The good news is, we still have about 13 weeks left here. We have time to take a few extra trips. I have time to push myself to try new things and meet new people. I have time to purposefully connect with the people I do know here. To let myself flourish in this newfound happiness.

I am nervous, but excited. I am scared, but brave. I am intrigued to see what this next chapter holds. I am ready to take on life. I am happy.

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Learning and Growing

I’ve slacked on my blogging goal for 2016.

My other goals are going well, so I’m being lenient with myself about this one!

The past few weeks have been more of the same – going through the motions, biding time until we move home. I am to the point where I know it’s so close, but like a kid anxiously pushing through the last two months before summer break, I am finding it hard to be patient. I am taking life one day at a time, trying to enjoy the last little bits of the life we carved out for ourselves here.

That being said, when D came home two weeks ago with news that one of his co-workers I knew in the states would be visiting soon, I was super excited! I have only hung out with said co-worker a handful of times, I don’t know her very well, but it’s funny that the thought of a familiar face can be comforting when you are missing home.

I think I bugged D every day to make sure he finalized plans – I’m sure that wasn’t annoying at all! 🙂

On Saturday, we met his co-worker to show her around a city we live close to. It was such a fun day! We met up with her around 1, and I assumed we would spend a couple of hours, be home by 4-5, workout, and eat dinner. After a day’s worth of touring the city, we ended up at our favorite bar and stayed until well past 7 talking and enjoying each other’s company. Like I said, it was nice to see a familiar face!

Although I had a great time, it was in my reflection of the time that I realized just how special this day was in terms of recovery.

Before we moved, I had plenty of opportunities to hang out with D’s co-workers – not just this one, but many others – but I chose not to. Not because I didn’t like them, but because the thought of spending time with people I didn’t really know well scared me. These people weren’t by best friends who knew my nuances, habits, and routines. They didn’t know that eating dinner after 7 made me anxious. They didn’t know that simply eating dinner in front of them would make me anxious. They didn’t know that half of the time during a conversation, I had no idea what to say or do or think, that I was anxious and sweaty and wanted to cry.

At that point in my life, I wasn’t at a place where I could be comfortable spending time with people outside of my little circle. I had just recently invited my people into my comfort zone – I was just over that stage with the people I trusted – I wasn’t ready to step outside of my comfort zone and brave the world of time spent and conversations had with acquaintances.

But, as proven by Saturday (and a few other times before), I am ready for that now. I was able to have conversations with this person – not just responding to questions, but also starting conversations of my own. I talked to her when D was at the table, and when he was away. I felt comfortable being myself and I could feel that comfort zone behind me – I wasn’t inside of it anymore. It wasn’t holding me back.

I also enjoyed a meal, a snack, and a beer with D and his co-worker. I ordered what I wanted to order, and I ate as much as I wanted to eat. At one point, I did look over to her plate to see how much I had eaten in comparison. But, after I realized what I was doing, I consciously made myself stop. I know how much fuel my body needs, and I know how to eat accordingly. I don’t have to compare my food intake to anyone else’s. That was huge. As we were walking around the city, I spotted a stand for a delicious sweet treat that I wanted her to try – I split one with D, too. At our favorite bar, I had one beer, with no desire to have another, so I didn’t. Usually, when in an uncomfortable, out of my comfort zone situation, I would drink to feel comfortable, but I didn’t need to. I was able to relax and enjoy conversation and company without help.

Finally, as the night came to a close and we headed home, I began to panic a little about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to eat dinner until after 8:30. A year ago, that, coupled with the fact that I missed a workout, would have sent me over the edge. Not this time. I had a conversation with C about how it was just one day, and in the grand scheme of things, had zero impact. I ate dinner and went to bed.

The past 14 months have been hard. Yes, I have had an amazing opportunity to travel Europe, live in another country, meet so many people, learn so many things. But, there were times when I hated my life. I was depressed, I let food control me, OCD has been tough, and I’m leaving here with more scars (mentally and physically) than I came with. Ultimately though, I have learned so much about myself and I have grown more than I ever imagined possible. Being here forced me to take sole responsibility for my recovery and for my life. It made me hold myself accountable. It showed me just how supportive an amazing group of “home team players” could be.

14 months ago, I would never have experienced Saturday the way it played out. I would have been anxious, quiet, and reserved. I would have eaten too little and probably drank a little too much. I would have told D we needed to leave at a specific time to be sure I worked out and ate dinner before 7. I wouldn’t have had fun, nor would I have been very much fun.

I needed Saturday. Yes, I needed a familiar face and familiar conversation. But, I also needed the opportunity to see just how far I’ve come.

I am proud. I am thankful. I am happy.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…”– English Proverb