Before I became realized, I had deep affection for Dema. There was a wonderful structure to the city that put my cares to rest. Streets and locations were dependable, and the responsibilities of the day seemed to be accomplished with minimal effort. Once a task was taught and understood, we delighted in our ability to complete our obligations timely, and felt secure in knowing tomorrow’s duties would be accomplished with the same efficiency. We all worked to represent our bishop with honor, and knew that each inhabitant of our region had a like-minded dedication to consistency.
The life I used to live was simple and familiar. I had very strict rules for almost every area of my life. Someone offers me a cookie? Easy, I don’t eat sweets. A job wants me to work on Sunday? Easy, turn down the job. My life was planned out- I would go to college for a year after I graduated high school, serve a mission, come back and get married, graduate from college, have babies, take care of them for the rest of my life until the Savior came and I was translated to the Celestial Kingdom.
When I first started stepping out of these extreme rules I had set for myself it was very exciting. I felt so free every time I would order whatever sounded good to me on the menu, when I would hear a song that I liked that swore and realized I could keep listening to it, if I was tired and needed a nap I would take one, and so many other freedoms that I previously had not allowed myself to enjoy. But I quickly realized that it was not all sunshine and roses. It was scary, it was unfamiliar. In my mind, it was If I do A then the result will be B. But what happens when I add in all these other numbers and start multiplying, dividing, squaring, etc.? It was unknown and unfamiliar.
I basically had to rebuild who I was and what I believed. I allowed myself to genuinely question anything that came to my mind. It seemed counter-intuitive at times to step out of the world of comfort and surety into this unknown world, knowing that I would stumble along the way.
I tore down my identity that had been built upon on a foundation of shame, doubt, fear, and anxiety. I started over completely from scratch in defining who I am, what I believe, what I enjoy, etc. and will probably continue finding things out about myself for the rest of my life. But the most important thing is that I have found a more solid base that is set on confidence, self-love, compassion, balance, and growth. Initially, it was very hard to leave my already built tower of shame and start completely over from scratch. There were many times I was tempted to jump back in my tower and start judging myself and everyone else, and there were probably times that this happened. But as I kept pushing through the pain of digging a new foundation, pouring cement in, tearing down and rebuilding parts that I messed up on, and building up the framework for my new identity; I started realizing how beautiful it was to build something so fitting for me. The fear I had, along with other people I am sure, is that if I took away these strict rules that I would fall apart. That the walls would collapse and I would turn into the person I was trying to prevent myself from becoming all along. But guess what? I have learned so many valuable lessons about myself through trial and error. I have learned who I am and what I need to feel peace and meaning in life.
The way I viewed the results of this journey is very different than they have actually turned out. I expected to figure out a way to have a perfectly shaped house with a nice garden when in reality it is still a mess. The difference is that I have learned how to thrive in the mess, learned how to love and accept myself despite my very imperfect life. I need A LOT of sleep, frequent breaks, lots of validation, and to communicate every time someone hurts my feelings. I was hoping I would learn to not be so sensitive but have realized that instead, I need to embrace my sensitivity. What a wonderful gift I have been given, to feel deep emotions in a way that separates me from a robot.
I still have many moments, but that is my point. I will have moments for the rest of my life and I can either fight them or accept them. I am not saying to accept the behaviors associated with these difficult moments (everyone lets out internal pain in different ways), but to accept that we as human beings feel unpleasant emotions and have unpleasant experiences and learn how to tame that unpleasantness in the most effective way. My journey is not even close to being over and it has been a long road to where I have gotten, but I am more confident in my ability to take on whatever hurdles lie ahead.