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The past year has been a very difficult one for me and my family.

I wish I could say that I clung fast to my faith throughout the past twelve months. I wish I could tell you that God was my shelter and my fortress, that I remained lifted in my heart and spirit because I leaned on him. I wish I could continue to paste on a smile and say everything will be fine and that I’m fine.

Except I’m haven’t, I didn’t, I won’t and I’m not.

This past year we’ve been thrown into the fire and instead of the embers burning down, someone keeps stoking that fire until it burns hotter and brighter every single day. I’m hoping maybe that means we’ll come out stronger for it – but right now, it doesn’t feel that way.

Full disclosure: life is really hard right now and I’m feeling broken.

In the last twelve months we have circled our wagons as a family and surrounded one of my daughters who suffering with mental health issues. Some days/weeks/months it looked like things would be okay. Other times it looked like they’d never be the same again. Right now, I have no idea what anything looks like.

I do know this. I can’t keep going the way I have been.

I’ve worn blinders. I’ve been focused on my family, on my daughter, on my obligations and promises I’d made to others and forgot about focusing on myself. I went on a few trips when I thought things were okay and used those times as a rejuvenation and I can honestly say those trips were probably what kept me going, kept me sane, kept that well within my soul full…

But right now, all of life has come to a stand still. As it should.

This is the perfect moment for me to step back and take stock. It’s been a long year and at times it’s felt like we haven’t moved at all and yet, when I stop looking at the big picture and take notice of all the moments within this past year – I see we’ve actually moved/improved/grown quite a bit.

When someone within your family is struggling with mental health issues, it affects everyone. You start walking on tiptoes unsure of how to act, respond, react. You start to watch your words more carefully – measure them before speaking and then beret yourself because you should have realized the damage your words can inflict – even when you have the best of meanings. You start to dampen the fire of your own emotions, step back and let life pass you by rather than fully participating in it. You know that one day you’ll be back in full form but right now, you’re hiding beneath that blanket, the same blanket your loved one is hiding beneath because…well, to be honest, it’s just easier.

We didn’t always remain beneath that blanket though. We crawled out from beneath it at times to stand strong and to stand in God.

  • My marriage is a lot stronger because of this past year.
    The communication within our home is more honest. We’re all learning to be open with each other. Sometimes too open but I’ll take it.
  • My husband and I are working together more as a team when it comes to parenting our three teenage daughters. We are becoming stronger parents and it has changed a lot of the dynamic in our home for the better.
  • I’ve learned to slow down when it comes to my expectations. My writing schedule has changed – and in the hustle and bustle within the indie writing world where people are panicking about having to push out more content, I’m stepping back and focusing on my storytelling, making it as strong and as honest as I can. It’s the only thing I can do right now and it feels like the right decision (which means my readers may have to wait a little longer in between books but it’ll be worth it).

I also made a lot of mistakes while hiding beneath that blanket.

  • I let my heart grow numb. I was in pain, am in pain and rather than reach out for help, I withdrew, thinking I had to prove I was stronger than I really was.
  • I gave myself a time frame and when we passed it without any changes, the disappointment almost tore me a part. In fact, I’m still reeling from it. When this nightmare began March 2016, I thought for sure by the time the new year came, we’d be fine. Our family would be fine. My daughter would be fine. We’re anything but fine.
  • I allowed negativity to seep into my heart. I thought I was fine. It’s starting to show now – in my words, in my emotions, in my actions and I don’t like it. In fact, I was up all night realizing that I was becoming someone I don’t recognize anymore and I don’t like it.
  • When the going gets tough, I withdraw. I become distant with friends. With my husband. With my family. I guard my heart, my emotions until it becomes too much and then I overreact. I see myself doing that now and it’s not okay.

It’s time to change my own narrative. It’s time to change my thought pattern, how I deal with situations that arise, how I handle my emotions. It’s time for me to change the direction I’m going.

I’m the only one who can change my narrative.  It won’t be easy. It’ll be hard and for all the steps forward I take, I know I’ll have to backtrack a time or two. But it won’t stop me. I can’t let it. It’s time for me to come out from beneath that blanket, to stop hiding, to start facing reality.

How will I do this?

  • By changing my thought pattern. By focusing on the good, the right, the true. By hitting the delete button on all those negative emotions that threaten to overwhelm me. By choosing to stand to stand tall rather than curl up in a ball.
  • My days will start on the right path. With devotion, prayer and a lot of coffee. I will focus on me – on being healthy, on strengthening my own heart and mind before I focus on anything else.
  • By watching what I say and how I say it. By choosing to focus on the good and not the bad. By choosing words of life rather than words of death.
  • By being honest with myself, my husband, my children and my friends rather than wearing a facade of “I’m okay, I’m good, I’ve got this.”
  • By leaning on God. My number on mistake this past year. I didn’t lean on Him the way I should have – it’s why I’m now empty when I should be full.

The first step is realizing my narrative needs to change. The next step is making sure it happens. I can only do this one step at a time. I know I’ll head back beneath that blanket…but it won’t be to hide, it’ll be to support my daughter when she needs it. She has her own narrative that needs to change – something she’s in the process of learning how to do with the right professionals who can help her do it.

This is me changing my own narrative. This is my first step. Wish me luck.