To All The Kristins I Have Been: Thank You

light-sign-typography-lighting.jpgIn this special birthday post, I need to acknowledge a few people.
This post is to all the Kristins that I have been.
To the 4-year-old girl that climbed up on the bathroom sink to look at herself in the mirror and was disappointed in what she saw.
To the 7-year-old who had her first suicidal thoughts and was shamed for it after expressing them.
To the little girl in elementary school who was a bully because she was so angry.
To the chubby 10-year-old.
To the bulimic 14-year-old.
To the 17-year-old with the awkward haircut and who felt ugly inside and out.
To the 19-year-old who felt achingly alone.
To the 22-year-old who settled and mostly got married because she was shamed by family and religion.
To the 27-year-old alcoholic with crippling depression and body dysmorphia.
To the 28-year-old who took anti-depressants and struggled retaining her short-term memory for two years.
To the newly divorced and complete train wreck 31-year-old.
And now to the 34-year-old today who has grieved and forgave. To the me who accepts that I am worthy and won’t settle and have learned to love again and most importantly, learned to love herself.
To all the Kristins I have been: I love you and thank you for being you.
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Limits

freeimage-2252862-webIf you read my last post, you’d know that from April to October of 2017, I struggled with depression.

In addition to what I talked about in that post, I had also started a new job at a state park, Ian and I moved further away from Nashville, and Kill Me Now, a web series I made with my older sister had wrapped and was being edited by Ian. 

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with all those changes. My life didn’t really feel like mine for awhile. My time and energy was being dedicated to my relationships and filming. I felt stuck in my path and by wanting and trying to do everything, I wasn’t doing much of anything.

Everything I was feeling, manifested in physically debilitating ways. I had been on high alert, on edge, and on guard for 30 some odd years anyway, but my body was going into overload and rebelling. I was so tense at times that it was difficult to turn my head to the side.  I started seeing a chiropractor. I read a lot about toxic stress and how to subdue it. I was relearning how to breathe correctly. I started paying attention to my triggers and responses. I still have to tell myself to put my shoulders down every two minutes.

I made the decision to focus solely on healing myself emotionally and physically. So, I gave up everything I had been wanting, wishing for, doing, and suppose to be doing. I didn’t write except when I needed to journal to clear my head. My sister took over promoting Kill Me Now.  I donated the majority of my art supplies. I wasn’t looking into submission deadlines or upcoming writing classes or acting workshops.

For a few months, I was fine, but having no goals or to-do lists, the question of my self-worth gnawed at my psyche and will to live.  This caused a lot of second guessing. I didn’t know what I believed in, what I wanted to do with my life, or who I wanted to be with.

I was overwhelmed with maybes and what ifs and it left me searching for answers.

In October, needing space, I went camping alone. I had to challenge my attachment to Ian and all of my fears. I laid awake in my tent for a long time. I cried. I wrote in my journal. I wrestled.  I knew I had to start being fully accountable for myself. I had to grow up and let go.

A lot of my misery was due to me chasing too many damn things. I’ve always had an interest in a variety of things. I would passionately pursue an interest but then lose focus it. Then I would turn to another interest, only to do the same. Having too many “choices” left me with an inability to choose something and actually do it. I couldn’t commit to anything since I was chasing twenty different things.

Out of all the shit I thought I was suppose to do and wanted to do and felt obligated to do, what did I really want and need to do?

I knew I had to cut back on interests and passions and whittle it down until I didn’t feel overwhelmed anymore. So, I focused on three major areas in my life (Relationship, Career, Personal Philosophy) and narrowed it down until I only had one choice in each area.

So, what did I decide?

Relationship: Ian

I want to marry Ian. He is a great partner and wonderful companion. He has challenged me in so many ways. Ian stays accountable and keeps me accountable, as well. He is always willing to try, to change, and work on issues.

No one is going to be perfect. Anyone I date will have flaws. But Ian is someone I can trust to have children with. He is someone I can share my life with, growing along the way.

Career: Writer

Writing is the only thing I’ve done consistently throughout my life. I know I’m good at it. I know it’s a craft that must be practiced everyday. It is the only thing that gives me hope, excites me, and creates contentment.

I had to say goodbye to becoming an actress, a director, an archaeologist, a counselor, painter, graphic novel artist, travel guide, park ranger, whatever. I can’t live all those lives, but I can create characters who do.

Personal Philosophy: Stoicism

In August, I stumbled across the ancient philosophy of Stoicism and it just clicked. Stoicism is practical wisdom. Stoicism is about self responsibility, accountability, reflection, maintaining emotions, and taking action. It is a tangible philosophy to practice every day of one’s life.

I came away from that camping trip and long battle with depression a changed person. Of course, things didn’t magically fall into place right away but over time, I have flourished all areas.

A person can’t just make a decision or write a list or make a resolution and then do nothing. What matters to you and what you want for the rest of your life must become a life long practice. You must cultivate it every day before it will grow.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by too many options, focus only on the major areas of your life. Be honest with yourself and cut the shit. By this process of elimination, you will be free to choose what truly matters to you. And you’ll be a hell of  a lot happier and content when you do.