When our voices are stolen from us, along with our self-worth, it’s incredibly hard to push through our perceptions and have confidence. It’s easy to see you were robbed of your voice and your power but somehow hard to know you’re allowing yourself to remain powerless and unheard. I had to learn to prioritize joy over my poisoned perceptions, to live life on my terms and in my own way, no matter who would support me or value me. So, I sat down and thought of five things I was willing to let go of in order to claim victory over my life. This meant more than just protecting myself, it meant I was moving on and that I wasn’t going to look back. It meant that I would win against my pain, against my suicidal thoughts, against my fear.

The five things I was willing to let go of was my: insecurities, suppression/masking pain, shame, attachment to toxic thoughts and people, and bad habits. Those five things had become my personality and I had become toxic myself.

I had wrote it down and proclaimed those five things, so now what? How the hell was I going to do it? It sounded great on paper but in practice is an entirely different thing and no matter how determined I was, I still needed a concrete plan. I really need to expose my flaws more to start clearing out the clutter in myself and my life, which in turn, scared the hell out of me. Since I had no support system, money, degree, or anything to hold onto, it made it even scarier to fail and for a while, this just stayed as a post-it on my fridge. The longer I had looked at it, the less motivated I was to go through with it until one day, I got very annoyed with myself. I was unhappy and the longer it sat there the longer I would see that I’ve made zero progress and all I had done was proven the people I’ve hated were right. No matter how I told and retold the stories, in the end, I was the one who lost out and frankly, I was sick of losing.

It was New Years Eve one year when I finally decided to create a plan and start some kind of progress. So, the entire day I spent planning and strategizing. I’d write “I will deal with my xxxx by:” and list how I’d do it or where I’d look if I didn’t know how. Here is what I chose:

I will deal with my pain and stop masking it by: Learning how to love myself and take care of my needs, sharing my story to help others, therapy, changing my perspective of each situation so I can forgive and stop hating myself, becoming more self-aware so I can see how holding onto masking is hurting others. I will deal with my insecurities by: Taking a public speaking course, learning how to take better care of my health, dealing with my depression with medication and goal setting, focusing on the accomplishment or reward over how others view me, Learning about what I am and what I have to offer than what I don’t. I will face my shame by: Acknowledging my own roles in each situation and how poorly I conducted myself, asking for forgiveness, reminding myself that I am not fundamentally flawed and worthy of love, understanding that I set the boundaries in my own expectations of myself and no one else does, reminding myself that with consistency I will improve in all areas I apply myself. I will let go of attachments to toxic things in my life by: Looking up subtle warning signs and talking them through with my therapist, setting boundaries, telling the person they are being abusive and hurtful, focusing on the fact they have their own lives and problems to work through and that they are more self interested than interested in me so they are likely not judging me, walking away, repeating to myself that my joy means more than my pain, making a list of qualities I aspire to as a friend and spouse and find others with those same qualities, being ok that I am not for everyone because those toxic people are not for me and I don’t expect them to want me to be for them. I will let go of my bad habits by: Learning new coping skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbooks, Complex PTSD Workbooks, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and my therapist, changing one thing at a time everyday for 90 days until moving onto the next thing, making a reward list for each time I do overcome a hard day, making a vision board for the life I want to live, letting others know I was changing it to hold me accountable, making a list of consequences for any slip ups I had.

I did some other things too like creating that vision board, not for my entire life, but for that single year and that at the end of that year, I’d make a list of all the things I’d accomplished even if they weren’t a big deal to anyone else, they’d be proof that I did it and was on track to living a life free from the pain I felt so trapped in. Every three months I’d visit my list and every week I’d be working towards it. It’s really amazing what the right tools and resources will do for your life. It is very hard to stick to and be consistent with, especially when you’re not great at being consistent with yourself in the first place, but, after that year was over I realized it wasn’t so bad and it wasn’t so hard. In fact, what I was holding onto was much harder to deal with than all the new stuff I had learned. Every year after that, I created new goals and plans on how to achieve them and created new achievement lists. Then I scrapbook the lists so I can use them to build better memories when I get sad or even suicidal. It allows me to see how much I’ve achieved by letting go and moving on with my life. While I’ll always have things to work on and improve, I also had to recognize how far I’ve come so I don’t relapse and to also help with my confidence in trying something new.

While those people did rob me of some time in my life, I certainly wasn’t going to let them rob me of any more of my time. Below is an example of my first achievement list to my current one with last years. While it doesn’t show everything, it’s clear to see that learning coping strategies, making a concrete plan, and consistency pays off into bigger things and better opportunities.

Over time, I could actually see myself grow and climb. I am very lucky and grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given no matter when they came in my life, but now, I am equipped to make something out of the chances I’m given because I created the skillset to do that. I once heard that regret is the only feeling that matters, and I truly believe that. I never want to look back and feel like I didn’t do all I could to be the best version of myself. I want to be proud of the life I’ve led and the person I’ve grown into, than allow my bad habits and self hatred hold me back. I hope you do too. I hope you see in yourself something positive budding inside you that you’re willing to nurture and grow. Today is the day you write down your five things you’re willing to let go of in order to claim victory over your life. Today is the best day to start your blueprint for a happy, healthy, future.

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