An Update on My Life, The Loss of Others & How I Plan to Take on the New Year

Several weeks ago I lost a friend from college, who took his life tragically and unexpectedly. He was an exceptional human, the life of the party, a friend to many…

This past week I lost another friend. He hasn’t been part of my life since we were “kids”. But since learning a few days ago that he {also} took his life, only one month or so after my other friend, in the same tragic way… I have felt myself feeling cynical, angry, and of course, sad. As I’ve still been trying to process the death of my other friend, left with so many questions of how does something like this happen, I find myself constantly asking the question… How could these good people be choosing to take their own lives? Leaving behind children, parents, siblings, friends…

As we go into the new year, we’re all setting goals for ourselves. We want to lose some lbs, eat better, organize our homes, declutter our closets… We’re planning for all of the ways we can prioritize our physical selves and our outer circumstances. And pretty much everyone I’ve talked to has the same or similar goals and plans for the new year. Me, included.

We are living in a society where our exteriors are given more priority than our interiors. And I’m not talking about our physical interiors and health. I’m talking about the core of our beings… OUR SOULS. We’re often taught that self love is selfish and that we should put others before ourselves to be good humans. But how can we be what we want to be for others if we aren’t truly loving ourselves?! It’s left me wondering, how did these good people lose such sight of who they were that they took their own lives?

Pair all of this with the circumstances of my last year, where I was faced with the possibility of losing my own life, it’s all had me thinking A LOT. About life. About death. And not just about my own life but how I affect others. It’s obviously important to help others and use your gifts to give back. 100%. But it’s just as important to know who you are, own your worth, be willing to look in a mirror and say, “You know what…? I know what’s best for me. No one else can determine what is best for my life. And I choose joy.”

It’s funny… I know people with the most difficult of circumstances who are still able to be positive, uplifting, happy people. And then I know others with the most gifted of circumstances who just can’t seem to find joy. But it has me thinking so much about what we can do as individuals, as a society, to find true happiness? What goals can we set in this new year; What measurable steps can we take to exercise our souls, to find our REAL joy?

One thing I do KNOW is that what we get back from the universe is almost always a true reflection of what we put out into the universe. I know saying that will feel controversial or uncomfortable to some of you. And I know, in some ways, there are exceptions to this rule. We cannot control losing a loved one, or gaining some types of illnesses or extenuating circumstances that cause us to lose a job, our home, etc. etc. But I do 100% believe that what we are putting out into the Universe is a direct reflection of what we are perceiving our universe to look like. And if we don’t learn to take accountability our own happiness, then we can end up feeling sad and run down and sometimes lost beyond belief.

But if we can give our all to our relationships, accept when we have been wrong and communicate when we want more in a relationship, take accountability for what we can change and accept that we can’t change others… when we can put in the work to being better humans, I believe we’ll see the better in others. Our relationships will start to thrive in a new way when we accept what we cannot change but work hard on what we can.

We must start taking responsibility for ourselves. We must look in a mirror and accept that the state of our relationships is what it is because of OUR contribution to that relationship. We can’t change what another person says, feels, does. But we can own our own happiness, be willing to make our own decisions for what we accept (or don’t) and decide what we want in our lives and what we no longer feel is beneficial to us.

We can choose to spend our free time on things that bring us true joy and say “no” more to things that don’t. We can spend less time on social media and more time present in happy times. We can choose to put everything we can into bettering an important relationship or accept when another isn’t healthy to us and be willing to let it go. We can honor every single soul that has entered our lives, knowing that each one was meant to impact our life in some way. But also I think we have to be willing to forgive ourselves for relationships that went left as well and even be willing to let them go, if it’s what’s best for our personal happiness.

As I’ve chatted with those close to the people we recently lost, there is a common theme to how they all feel about losing their loved ones. And it’s ridden with guilt. Guilt of what could they have done differently. Guilt that they didn’t notice it had gotten so bad before it was too late. They’re plagued with what if they’d done this or that? I’ve even felt similar feelings. But I’m conflicted with those feelings and the contrary to that, where I say- you CANNOT and ARE NOT responsible for making another person happy.

Now before I move on, I want to be clear… Don’t get me wrong- I 100% believe that, as a friend and family member, we should be there for our loved ones through the good and the bad, the happy and sad, the highs and the lows. 100! And if you or someone you know is struggling, I urge you to ask questions, seek help, stage an intervention if you need to. But if we aren’t taking care of our own souls, how can we possibly be able to take care of someone else’s? And if someone else isn’t taking care of their own, how can we be expected to fix it for them?

What if… just WHAT IF… the way we could make the world a better place… was to TRULY love ourselves?! To wake up every day with the notion that life will be so so beautiful if we open our eyes to what we DO have to be thankful for, instead of constantly focusing on what we’re lacking? What if we were to get up every day, look in the mirror and say, “I love you!” and focus our time and our energy on filling our tanks? And in doing so, we’d spread a contagious energy to those around us to do the same.

What if we spent our extra time and money on therapy to address past pains, searching our souls for the answers that plague us during our trying times so that we can resolve difficult emotions from the past? What if we spent a little less of our time scrolling the Internet and a little more of our time snuggling with our kids, spouses, friends? Having family game time. Taking a walk. Reading a book. Meditating…

As I was writing this blog post, I went outside to check on my kids who were playing with friends. My daughter voiced (very vividly) that she was upset. She was “making a movie” (she makes small films using her friends as actors on iMovie), and in one swift swoop her brother came in and said, “Hey, do you guys want to play statues?” All the kids screamed, “Ya!” And, just like that, they were on to a new activity. My daughter was sitting on the curb of the road, head down in her knees, upset at her brother and friends that they’d decided to do something else. “Mom, I looked forward all day to coming home and finishing my laundry, just so I could go outside and finish my movie with my friends.” She was upset that they’d used their own free will to choose to do something else, at her expense (in her mind). I could have gone over and encouraged them to do the film with her or stepped in and made the film with her, but I took this as an opportunity to have an important discussion with my girl.

I explained to her that if we always put our happiness in the hands of others that we will spend our lives setting ourselves up for disappointment. I went on to explain that we all have different interests, gifts, talents. We all have different things that we enjoy and that make us happy. And if we spend our lives always expecting other peoples’ actions to make us fulfilled, we’ll never get to fully live our own happinesses. (It sounds deep for a conversation with a 9-year-old, but it was really a conversation I think I was having with my own inner child.) I told her she has 2 choices: She can go over and play “statues” with them. OR she can make a movie on her own if that’s what makes her happy. But she can’t force people to do what she wants. And she’ll be gravely disappointed if she always relies on them to do what she wants to be able to have fun. I explained that I hoped whatever she chose, it would give her joy. Because the others had been able to choose what they wanted, and joy was the obvious outcome for them.

When my husband and I left the funeral of my highschool boyfriend this past weekend (my husband was actually friends with him in HS too), I told him that a memory of my old friend kept jumping into my head very vividly. When I think of him, I think of him turning up the volume of his favorite tunes in the car (with the sound of the 90’s subwoofer so loud the car would shake) and tapping the steering wheel with the largest grin. Music was his happy place. He’d play it so loud he would smile until his cheeks hurt, bobbing his head up and down and dancing in his seat. I said that, though it was a long time ago, that was a memory I’ll always have of him that will remain ingrained in my head when I think of his memory. I told J that I hope wherever Brad is, that he’s turning up his music (and his bass), banging on his steering wheel and dancing in his seat.

The point is, we all have {at least} that ONE thing that makes us happy. Aside from time with our loved ones, of course. But just that one thing that we do only for and with ourselves that gives us great joy. That makes us grin so hard our cheeks hurt. Or that just gives peace to our soul. For me, mine is running. When I’m several miles in, and I forget the noise of ANYTHING outside of me. It’s just me and the pavement. That’s when I’m at peace.

I hope this inspires even one of you to take a good look at yourselves. Mental illness is real, and though I’ve never struggled with depression personally, I’ve now lost people in my life who have and I want to make sure that I do everything I can in my human heart to resolve to love myself and those important to me to my fullest of capabilities so that I can make the world a better place, one day at a time. If you are struggling, I want you to know I empathize with you. I, too, struggle. Daily. With my kids, with my friends, with my marriage. I’m certain that we all do. I’m willing to accept when I need therapy or when I need to take my child or go with my husband. When things are off (bc they are sometimes; that’s life- ebbs and flows) I’m going to commit to accepting help and being willing to put in the work to better personal relationships with those I love and with myself. TO hear people. To accept their boundaries and offer unconditional love. But also to honor that I, too, have boundaries. And I expect those that love me to honor them as well. Presence, understanding and self-reflection: those are my goals for 2019.

I guess the bottom line is this- I LOVE MYSELF. And as I get older, I feel more and more comfortable saying that out loud, without the fear of judgement. I’m learning what I do want in my life and what is most important. And also what I don’t. And most importantly- I’m understanding that the ONLY person who can manifest the life I want for me is ME. And I’m going to work like hell to take care of that person. To feed her soul. To tell her she’s loved and worthy. And to set goals that make HER a better person. And after that… I’m going to use that personal happiness and energy to dish out love and light with every ounce of my soul.

I pray for those struggling with any type of mental health issues. Depression and anxiety are REAL issues and I feel they majorly deserve attention and awareness. We’ll never be able to enter the mind of another or truly understand what they’re going through. But we can try to empathize, console and LOVE unconditionally, so that those struggling feel safe to be vulnerable with us when they need help. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, I hope you take the steps necessary to heal wounds and find real joy. After all, God did not mean for us to just live. He meant for us to THRIVE.

Happy New Year, friends. Here’s to a year of personal growth, happiness and above all… LOVE.

This post is dedicated to my lost friends. May their hearts and souls rest with the Lord.

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4 Comments

  1. This spoke to me in such a deep way. I thank you so very much for writing this blog post. I very much needed it. I’m tempted to print this up and post this everywhere as a reminder to myself.We all put so much energy on what we receive from others to fulfill our happiness, but we forget that we have the tools to be joyful all on our own (with God of course).

    1. I’m so happy this spoke to you, and I thank you for taking the time to give it a read. All I can hope is that it resonates with even one person to empower us to find our true inner happiness. I pray for that always for you and all. Bless, Bec xoxo

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