Thursday, September 17, 2020

A Little Lesson in Self-Worth

It's been a decade since I walked the cobblestone streets of Florence, Italy and heard the bells of the Duomo ringing out under the heavy winter rain clouds above. The cool air blew against my cheeks, and I buttoned up my new black wool coat and wrapped my flowing wool scarf around my neck, both I'd picked up while shopping in Italy. I'd laughed as I picked them out, because, not only were they cute, but they'd both said 100% Lana on the tags. It was kismet. Despite the fact that Lana is Wool in Italian, I jokingly played along with the stars aligning. I'd never felt more free in my entire life. 

It had been years since I'd moved out of my parents home, almost a decade actually, but I'd spent the better part of my adult and teen years succumbing to the stress of my anxiety disorder. I had fun, and had a lot of experiences under my belt, but I'd never been on another continent, flown across an ocean, and been in a country that spoke another language. It wasn't just the traveling that made me feel free, though. For the first time in my life, my anxiety felt like an afterthought. For the year prior to that trip, I'd been in the throes of it, coupled with major depression. After a frustrating conversation with a close friend, I'd sought out therapy, and the doors had swung wide open for my healing. It happened quickly. It was everything I needed. I felt strong. I felt like the world was mine for the taking, and it was. Things were falling in to place. I was killing it at work. Dating was a piece of cake. I was having a blast.  

Also, right before the trip, I'd begun a relationship that I knew was more important than any I'd had before. It was different. Maybe it was how he loved me. Maybe it was how I loved me. Maybe it was both? 

Ten years ago, I was at the height of a new life for me. I felt on top of the world. On top of my game. On top of everything. I've thought a lot about what's happened in the last ten years and where I was ten years ago. Especially, since I've spent a lot of time just being at home this year due to the pandemic. And as a result, sometimes I've really made myself feel awful about where I am right now. 

A short while after that Italy trip, things got really hard. 

My new relationship was tried by distance as he went off for military duty, and then tried even more when he came home and was experiencing severe PTSD. 

My mom got terminal brain cancer right after he and I got married, and I did not handle the loss of her well. I dove deep into grief, mild PTSD, panic disorder, major depression, and my generalized anxiety was through the roof. 

My family seemed to be ripped apart due to our grief, and our once blended family felt like it had split into 3.  

A loved one spiraled into the pits of a lifelong battle with mental health and addiction, and became homeless, suicidal, constantly seeking my help, and because everything was too much and too hard, we had to stop speaking to each other. A choice I did not make lightly, and one that still feels like a fresh wound years later.

I left my religion, again. (I had left before in my teens and rejoined in my mid 20's.) And some of my family relationships had become hard because of my choice, and I began to feel that, for some people who I did not expect to be this way, I am only loved by my output. 

As my husband and I moved through our problems, our dreams of having adventures together became something of an outlier in our lives. Sometimes it felt like we were struggling to maintain life at all. We have been through more shit together than I ever imagined in our 10 years since we started dating.   

I think of that woman in Italy feeling like the world was hers, and I sometimes get angry, or sad. How had life become such a blur of just trying to survive when it had been so hopeful? Who had I become? Had I even accomplished anything besides still being alive? Sometimes I have beat myself up for not being who I thought I should be right now. 

Today, I read something written by a favorite writer of mine, and she said, "there are some things you can only learn by traveling the world, but there are also things that can only be learned by staying somewhere for a decade. ...and here's what's true, neither of those versions of [yourself] are worth more than the other.

It was like she'd written it for me, and it couldn't have come at a better time. 

Both versions of me, the woman who felt adventure at her feet, and the wounded woman who has carried her wounded warrior on her back out of hell, are a part of me. Both integral in who I am as a person today. Both part of the all encompassing story of the life I'm living. I needed the 2010 version of me, I needed the reprieve from my mental health hell, and thinking errors I'd been stuck in. I needed to be her, full of wonder and healing, to be the woman that could someday look her husband in the eyes and say, "You are staying here, I won't leave you, and I won't let you go."

Sometimes I don't recognize me anymore. Sometimes I see all the negative things. I'm aging. I'm not ready to be a mother, and I'm 36. I'm home more than I'm not. I'm honestly tired most days. I haven't traveled to all the places I planned, or accomplished everything I said I would. But, you know who I am now, when I flip the script?

I am strong. So much stronger than I ever thought I could be. I am a provider. I am climbing the ladder in a field I never expected to be in. I started from the bottom and now have a decent career ahead of me. I have purchased 2 homes, sold 1. I have taught myself to garden, to knit, to fix sprinklers, to construct raised beds, to come back from grief. I have saved two lives. My own, and my husband's. I have learned so much about love and life, and become more open and loving as I've sought out my own truths. I have gray hairs coming in, but I can run for miles without stopping. I can look at my father and truly know I've forgiven him for leaving me as a baby, and even understand maybe why he did. I have done more in the past 10 years that has made me into a force I didn't expect to be. So, I have got to stop looking in the mirror and calling myself unsuccessful because I didn't go to Iceland or to a concert at Red Rocks in Denver this year. 

I may not be off on a new adventure every week, but I've climbed so many mountains in my own life. In truth, the girl who was off on adventures, was just the baby me. The girl sitting here writing this, now with so much life experience in one decade she could write a novel, is a bad ass, a warrior, a woman. 

You are worth no more or less regardless of where you are. To everything there is a season. Your current status is just a part of your journey. Don't let 15 second Instagram stories, or people's accomplishments dictate who you are to yourself. Respect your journey, and keep moving along it. 

Keep on keeping on, my friends. 


Join the conversation!

  1. Thank you Lana. That was wonderful!
    I came for the gardening, but I’m staying for all the rest.

  2. Kathy Shaw-VaughanMarch 26, 2021 at 1:58 AM

    Wonderful insight and amazing acceptance of yourself. You’re a great writer in addition to a great gardener. I’ll be sticking around to hear more. Thank you for sharing with others.


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