Why Self-Care September means more to me than ever ❤️
Turn the clock back to 2011 - divorced twice; single parent of 4 kids under the age of 15; struggling to parent teens by myself with a difficult ex husband; my mom died of cancer 6 years before and there were very few people in my circle for support and a LOVE of crazy, toxic relationships and friendships. Not an actual love - but, it was all I knew back then.
2011 was not one of my best years, I’ll admit. I was lost; trying to pretend I had my shit together. I didn’t. Sure, I lost 75 lbs but I was a train wreck in every other capacity. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Some might call it a mid life crisis - it was far worse. It was a tsunami of epic proportion; a major life catastrophe and series of life train wrecks that lasted about 4 years. Year after year.
I am an Empath~ always have been. Always trying to help, fix, save… you name it.
Until a toxic relationship with an abusive boyfriend almost cost me my children.
It’s a story not many people know about me because of the guilt and shame I still carry to this day ~ but the long and the short of it was that, I was so blinded by the toxic dependency of this guy that I started putting me last and in turn, my kids. Yep ~ the same kids I talk about all the time. The ones I love and adore like no other.
How does that happen one asks?
That’s what a toxic, draining relationship does to you. Little by little, it wears away at what you know is right and what is expected and creates questions, uncertainty, fear, tolerance, emotional turmoil, physical and mental abuse. Until you can’t see straight.
I lived it for years. And I kept repeating patterns of this in relationship after relationship and friendship after friendship ; being so empathetic and trying to save and help everyone that I continued to allow people to treat me in a manner I did not deserve. “You are too nice to people,” my friends would say repeatedly. Until I learned how to say Fuck off.
September 2011 was finally the moment I regained some footing after more than 10 months of a whirlwind period in my life that taught me rock bottom and #unbreakable.
To crawl out of that hole was nothing short of amazing looking back and the work it took to then propel me forward was very fucking hard. And I didn‘t get better right away.
In fact, I went 4 more years bouncing back and forth trying to stop these destructive patterns and tolerating bullshit people in my life. People who drained me; suffocated me; judged me. People who decided they could basically do, say, treat me however, because I would chalk it up to “They are getting/need help” “They didn’t mean it.” “They are closest to me so I’m their outlet.”
2021 - I still struggle with this at times but I am so proud of how far I have come.
It’s the reason for this blog.
I had to find a therapist back in 2011 who could help me face some dark demons and deal with some issues of insecurity and lack of self love that got me to where I was. So every time Fall begins and September rolls around, my therapist, “my voice of reason”, and I joke about our anniversary. We are celebrating 10 years this month lol. I wonder if we should exchange gifts? Hahaha.
I NEEDED a therapist in 2011; again in 2014; in 2017; in 2019 before I married Hersh - hell, I need her NOW. Have I been In crisis for 10 years? Well no, not really. Lol. Maybe in my head; but not in a way one might suggest I need to “talk to someone”. She truly has been a sounding board; a third party; a voice of reason through all my struggles and my basic normal days… (I take that back… I have no real normal days 🤣)
She has taught me more about me in ten years than I ever imagined possible. We have worked diligently on communication and speaking up when I “get a vibe” I don’t like. She has taught me that NOW, because I am and have been in a stable, healthy relationship for the last 4 1/2 years, I can more confidently advocate that I won’t tolerate toxic things or feelings- be it a relationship, negative energy or the stress and anxiety that comes from trying to please innately unhappy people. I KNOW NOW how a good, supportive relationship should feel- (Notice I did not say perfect - Hersh and I are far from perfect but we are committed to working at it!)
Last year, I had to fire an employee who felt like family to me because honestly, the behavior I was witnessing didn’t sit well with me personally or professionally and instead of being bullied by fear or manipulated into agreeing to hire him back, I had to do the hard thing and it hurt. It sucked. For me and Hersh and our kids who had bonded with him like family. As hard as it was to do that, in the end, my internal peace was restored, the anxiety was gone, the ”what ifs” stopped and I could move forward. I did not lose one client because of it or NOT feel justified in my decision. The old me would have never done that years ago. “Put up and shut up. Just deal with it.“ was my motto and way of life years ago.
I have had to have really hard conversations with my kids - who are old enough now to have conversations about the struggles we had as a family back in 2011-2014 and the failures we endured - (perpetuated by my consistent shitty decisions and choices in life)- that taught us life lessons we will never forget. I have pretty much sucked at communicating these things to and with them but therapy has taught me how to get better at it (not perfect) and maintain very close relationships with all of my kids - who have seen me at the highest highs and the lowest lows. I have had a lot of forgiveness to ask for.
I have had to learn how to communicate with Hersh because I want to be a good wife and a good mother and show my children that good, healthy relationships are possible and sustainable in this world of snapping/texting/sexting/immediate gratification. Hersh is quite possibly the most patient and loving of all human beings and I still, at times, let the Irish/Italian stubborn angry girl come out and lose my shit. We have both committed to work on our communication skills together for ourselves, our marriage and our family. I’m a work in progress - always and forever will be.
I have had to let people go that I genuinely cared about because they just aren’t meant to be part of my story moving forward and I have had to do so mostly with no closure or understanding why things happen in life as they do. But I know this - They just don’t make me feel good.
I have had to set boundaries so I was at peace; I have turned down invitations for things with people I cared about that other years I would have jumped at; and I have had to have hard conversations in hopes of preserving my sanity and sense of self. Some went very well; others not so much.
I have been successful at resolving some of things that have cost me peace; and I have failed at even more. But, it’s ok. Because I am far happier now and more at peace than I have ever been. There is seriously something to be said for advocating for yourself. For speaking YOUR truth and holding true to how you feel. No one can take any of those feelings away from you. They aren’t wrong just because someone doesn’t agree with them.
The way “my voice of reason” explains it... (she reads all my posts and sees all my fitness stuff so I know I have to get this right lol… )
“People will be a lesson or a blessing. Both are needed. Both are necessary to make us the best possible person we can be.
At the end of day, stay true to you and what your heart feels. Speak up when it feels wrong and more importantly, on the good days and the great days, be even louder in letting them know it feels right!”
So as today marks the 10th anniversary of my “voice of reason“ and I, I urge everyone to find a pair of ears; an objective 3rd party; a trusted therapist or counselor.
Healthy lives and taking care of you should be your #1 priority. You can’t take care of anyone else if you are not taking care of you FIRST. And sometimes that means ten years of facing your own shit so you can advocate for your heart, your energy and your peace of mind.
care September … find a therapist ❤️
Happy, healthy Friday ! Shannon 💪🏼
Owner and Trainer of the
Best Gym in the 716
The Buffalo News Best of 716 contest