At the beginning of each year I write down goals—both short and long term. Which, I know is pretty common and every December I go back and evaluate. Every December I seem disappointed , annoyed and always discouraged. I become disappointed with myself and having these great ideas—because that’s what they were since I didn’t execute any of my goals. I’m annoyed with myself for even setting these “out of reach” goals. Which leads me to being discouraged and not even wanting to set goals for the upcoming year.
Gratefully, this years reflection is much different. I can definitely attribute the change to several things. My relationship with the Lord got stronger, a lot of support from others, resilience and putting my mental health first.
It took me a while, and I do mean a while, for me to realize I couldn’t make it through the year, a month or a day without the Lord. He guides me where he wants and needs me to go. It is my choice to listen, something I wasn’t good at and I would question him…mistake. I would think I had all the answers and when I suffered from the consequences from my mistakes I would try to justify them. I’m telling you—you can’t live your life thinking you can do this alone. With anything new comes a plethora of mixed emotions. For the new year it also comes with memories, memories we thoroughly enjoyed or memories we need to start to heal from. 2017 for me included both. I am thankful that our God is a present God and that he is the Creator of all things new. With the hardships of the year come reminders of how much we need Him. Subtle reminders help me not to fall too deep and also help me remember that it is okay to rely on his daily presence. Does this mean I only acknowledged Him in my time of despair? No. Even in times of glee and triumph. Constantly keeping Him in the forefront of my year has helped my 2017 be productive and meaningful.
Constant Support from Others. Do you have people in your life who are BRUTALLY honest? I do. Well, I like to call that accountability. I lacked a listening ear when it came to hearing the truth about the toxic people and things that weren’t needed for my life. I used barriers to block out emotions and feeling that I didn’t want to “deal with” for several years. I used avoidance and anger when I felt too close to certain emotions. It was easy for me to literally and figuratively block someone, which I am still working on. If I didn’t deem someone “up to my standards” or said/did something I considered disrespectful—they would be done. If someone inquired I would let them know what took place but quickly follow up with an “I don’t care” and leave it at that. It wasn’t until this year where I began to notice the toll it has taken on me and my sanity to say the least. Since August 27,2009, I’ve covered myself in a blanket of “No worries” or “It could have been worse” instead of knowing that I do matter enough for my story to be shared. With the constant support of my family and friends, 2017 was marked my time to share something I hid behind for so long. I never wanted to hear the truth about my ruthless “coping” skills. No, cutting ties with people isn’t wrong—I cut them to avoid disappointments from something that didn’t occur yet. In 2017 my supports grew stronger and they still hold me accountable just with two listening ears on the other side this time.
Resilience. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Fun Ashley Fact… I am a First Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. While in the sport I competed Nationally and Internationally against some of the best in the world and I often accredit a lot of the way I live my life to the sport. Resilient is a word that I’ve always associated with myself and the sport. I always thought of toughness as a physical quality, instead of a mindset. I always remember my Mom (Yes, my mom. Toughest lady in the stands) tell me “You’re letting them get in your head”. I knew what she meant but never equated it to the same level of physical toughness. It wasn’t until I grew older that I began to mentally win against my opponents. I was usually the smallest, in both height and weight, but that rarely deterred me before we got in the ring. Each year is my ring and it’s own fight, it’s ultimately up to me to “size up” my year before it even begins. Can we size it up hoping it’ll be the perfect opponent? No. Will roundhouses to the head occur? Yes, a lot of them. How I counter (respond) is up to me and the amount of resilience I exude. Resiliency doesn’t come over night- it’s a mindset that I have had to reteach myself. Battling Mental Illness for over half of my life I’ve had to build a resilience to things that some people have zero problems overcoming. In 2017 it was up to me to mold my mind into a state that can and will bounce back from things thrown my way.
Putting Mental Health First.
Before starting “Behind Her Smile” I had to ensure I was healthy. Several times in 2017 I felt as if my world was crumbling and that I had zero control over the things that were happening in my life. I made sure I took my life back before it took me. Which included following my treatment plan: Seeing my psychiatrist, attending talk-therapy every two weeks and taking my medication. Along with practicing positive self-care. Putting my mental health first allowed others into a part of me—essentially enabled me to open up to you all!
My 2017 was far from perfect and my 2018 won’t be perfect either. But, I am proud of the progress that I’ve made this past year. I am looking forward to sharing a project I have been working on with you all!
Do not be discouraged. Progress/change didn’t happen over night. Start little by little and before you know it that “little” will become something greater than you could have ever imagined. Thank you to everyone who has aided in making my 2017 one to remember.
I appreciate you!