an essay.

Because health is about mental health and honesty with oneself too.  I recently came across this essay I'd written to some friends in January of 2008:

There are a lot of things that I have learned over the years and I am grateful to know that I am not perfect but that I am improving. I try to learn and grow from each person I am acquainted with and from each situation I am put in… because I believe that God gives us these as a gift and opportunity and that if we are truly honest with ourselves and with those around us then we have great potential for good.

There are things that I admire in each of you and hope to improve in myself. I admire P’s spunk and wish that I could go all crazy Latina at times (I do it in my head at least). I hope that as my kids age I will have the ability to stand up for them and be their warrior like R. I also want her spunk. I strive for S’s unmovable faith and the light that she shines even through the computer. I hope that I can help my family live the gospel and that I can live it better personally as she does. I admire A’s enduring patience, ability to forgive, and great homemaking skills (even if she feels she is inadequate). I hope that I can regain the tenacity that F has and I hope that if I were ever put in her shoes I would have her long-suffering. I want to take a stand for myself to all people as she does.

I find myself often in a predicament of standing up for myself or backing away to avoid contention. I want to make it clear that DH and I do not fight. There have been veryfew times when voices have been raised between us. Part of that is our nature (although, I don’t understand that because in my head I yell at him). Part of that is the many years we have spent talkingtogether. The years as friends when we were there for each other, the years dating and making mistakes together, the years on his mission and growing together, and the years married and learning together. I often do not speak up right away when something upsets me. I have learned that for me this is the way that I avoid saying hurtful things that I don’t mean. It also gives me a chance for introspection to determine if there is really something else at the root of the problem and what my part in it is. DH knows this about me. He knows me sometimes better than myself and can pick up when I am upset and working something out in my head. There is a fine line between where he needs to push me to get it out of me or where he needs to back off and wait for me to bring it. There are the other times when he is smart enough to quickly figure out the problem and bring it up. Sometimes even then I am not ready to talk about it and I simply tell him that and one of us brings it up at a later time. However, I never let too long go before expressing my concerns. Part of this is that it gets at me. Part of it is that I hold negative feelings toward that person until it is resolved and in the back of my head I always worry that I will lose that person and those negative feelings will be the last I experienced with them. Part of it still is that I feel like by not standing up for myself I am not being honest with myself or with the other person. That is fair to neither of us.

I believe that we are each products of our experiences, upbringing, and background. A, I have no doubt that you saw your mom as a doormat and that whether you intended to or not, you picked up on that as a child. I saw the women in my life as being very strong and learned that from them. My mom fought for me like R does for her kids. She said it like it was like F does. She was never a doormat, but she was patient in her understanding of issues with my dad as A is with her DH. All these are traits that I inherited but with a catch. I know I have them all in me but I hold back. Why? Because of fear. Fear of loss. I know that is why I avoid contention. Fear of losing that person as a result of the contention. Fear of diminishing the relationship. Fear of that last word. But then there is the beauty of the Atonement and the fact that we can repair ourselves and our relationships and that this life is not the end. In the end, there is that fear of greatness that Nelson Mandela talks about. There is that power within me and that greatness and not allowing myself to be all that I can in every area is my own fear of myself holding me back.

I have learned that I am a daughter of God. No matter what my upbringing or childhood issues I have another set of parents who also instilled traits and experiences in me. My heavenly parents. I have thrones and principalities to inherit. To govern. Are my actions now in accordance with that? Do I act as a potential queen and priestess? Do I reign in my individual kingdom or do I let others rule it? I covenanted with my spouse and with God that we would work together toward eternal life. I have never felt that meant he had his job and I had mine. We covenanted together to be helpmeets. We agreed to help one another. To lift each other together. I cannot move myself forward if I do not have his help. Likewise he cannot do it alone. We must work together if we are to raise a family in righteousness and attain that eternal and blessed kingdom that has been promised to us. I don’t mean to sound preachy but this is what I feel deep inside of me. My husband understands, and I am glad, that he is not to simply ‘be the man’. As the patriarch of the home is to have me at his side, and he at mine, and it is about teamwork. As a Priesthood holder he is to set an example to our children of what God’s love looks and feels like in the way he presides over the family and the way he treats me. As God is the head of all of us, he is the head of our home. As a daughter of God I have the right to be respected and treated with love and admiration. There are far too many words spoken by prophets, whom I know to speak the truth, that say that as a daughter of God I am a prized possession and his divine creation. Do you think He made something as wonderful as me to simply be a possession ruled over by any person but myself? Do you think that in all his love and admiration for me, he wants me to feel a slave, unappreciated, unloved, or not cared about? No! I owe it to him to not stand for that. I owe it to Him and to my brother, Jesus Christ, who died for me, to be my very best and to not let anyone else hold me down. I owe it to them to try my darndest to love myself for who I am, if for no other reason than the fact that they love me enough to do all that they have done for me. If I don’t love myself and I don’t demand that others treat me as a daughter of God then what have I learned about my divinity and achieved in this life?

I have a lot to improve upon, don’t get me wrong. But I want it to be known what I believe about the nature of relationships. I am grateful that it is in my personal nature to want to observe those around me and to ponder upon the life around me. I am grateful to be able to apply those things to my life and to learn and grow. I am grateful that though my husband may royally screw up at times, we are still able to communicate without fighting and work together. I’ve never been sure if I believed in soul mates, but I simply cannot imagine being more ‘meant for each other’. He makes me better and I make him better. I think that’s what it’s all about. I know that what we have wouldn’t work for everyone. I know that what others have works for them and most certainly wouldn’t work for me. I’m grateful that DH is good enough for me that he loves me enough to accept what I can and cannot do. That he understands too that I am imperfect and can only improve with his help and unconditional love. He does not expect a perfect house from me…which is good because I could not personally give it to him. Heck, he knows that if he comes home to an entirely clean house and a meal on the table then a miracle must have occurred in our home. Regardless of how things are, he is impressed with me simply because he loves me and because I brought him children, who he knows that making it to the end of the day with all of us in one piece is a victory in an of itself. Our love and respect for each other I believe is shown in our understanding of each other. I’m glad that he can come home from work and say things like “Wow. Either the kids haven’t made any messes today or you’ve done a great job keeping up with them.” Or “What can I do to help?” Those are the times that he is the smartest. Of course, I hope I still can say all this in another 5 years. ;)


So, now, 5 years later.... wow.  I'm so glad that I wrote all that down.  I still believe it all very strongly.  I will say that I have since learned that not fighting is not a sign of a healthy relationship.  We fight now, but still in the sense of disagreeing, not screaming at each other or slamming doors etc.  We had a very rough period in the midst of that last 5 years that I was very angry with him and I did yell and say bad things.  I thought things were done for more than once.  But, wow, how things can change.  We both did a lot of work on ourselves and I have witnessed firsthand the miraculous healing power of the Atonement.  We are both different, and better people.  We have grown so much individually and together.  I am grateful for those trials we experienced because, while they may have seemed to tear us apart in the midst of them, they drew us nearer to God and then nearer back to each other.  Our relationship is so much healthier for it.  What a gift that is.  But it did take a lot of work.  Just like health of any type.


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