Looking within to move ahead.
This post is a complete rip-off of something Chriselle did yesterday (and, as always in the spirit of full disclosure, I’d fully intended on completing mine on New Year’s Eve, but the best laid plans et al, necessitating that I break my responses to these questions into three parts). I thought if she (with her insane schedule and justifiably glorified status as one of the most influential public figures in the industry today) could be honest and raw in that way, I could too, albeit across segments.
Truthfully though, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. I mean one could just rattle a few choice words and come up with a superficial response to every question, something pretty. Certainly far and away from being authentic and genuine, and where’s the point in that, correct?
SO HOLD ON, AND COME WITH ME FOR THE RIDE?
1. What were my best achievements in 2017?
This completely stumped me. I’ve sat in front of my laptop, in front of this particular question for the past 15 minutes, and absolutely nothing has come to mind. That’s rather
pathetic sad, isn’t it? I know I am always very hard on myself and perhaps that’s why I can’t think of anything I’ve done in 2017 that deserves to be shared here but give me a second. I can do this.
Professionally, I’ve been toiling away at a brand, spanking new website for work since October 2016, It has been quite the challenge. The freelancer we originally engaged, flaked just days before work was due to commence. Then we found the best design agency ever (based out of NYC) and for a while, things moved beautifully, until our main contact up and resigned (going from designer to RN, I know, I’m still shaking my head), and left everything so much in shambles that we had to start from ground zero. Again. Anyway, we are at the very last stage of the project and soon enough, my baby will see the light of day.
Blogging-wise, 2017 has taught me to hit the pause (and stop) button, to say no. And for as many times as I needed. Perhaps a touch too frequently as clearly evident from my sporadic posting across the 12 months but it was necessary. I experienced creative fatigue to such a chronic degree last year that writing ceased to be a source of joy, quickly developing into something from which I’d cringe, fear, and wince. Not quite the appropriate reaction to have when words form the backbone of your side hustle now, is it. But it was needed. All those breaks, time for myself. To be with myself, and do things for just me.
Personally, this is trifold. First of all, my relationship with my husband has reached the most amazing of highs. I thought we’d already seen it all, we were soulmates, in love, blah blah blah. But in the last year, more specifically the past five months, we’ve gone from that to truly being one person with two hearts beating in unison. I know I know, sappy much, but it is the gospel truth. We do everything together, we do everything for each other, and we are complete only when we are with each other, does that make sense? Secondly, I was so immensely proud to see how magnificently my baby took to university. She adapted beautifully, managing her anxiety with maturity and grace that far belie her age (and her emotional breakdown a scant two years ago), making friends from the get-go (my fear was that she would be absolutely alone and lonely, eating lunch by herself in the corner of the cafeteria), out from which two are now her besties. Today, I know what the phrase, “Children are our greatest achievements” means because Eve is truly the one beautiful thing in my life, I clearly did something right there. And thirdly, 2017 was the first time both my stepsons referred to me, in public, as their parent (of course they might have done it before but since it was never in front of me, this was the first time I’d heard them). You’d have to be a step parent to fully appreciate the magnitude of this moment. The end result of 15.5 long years of delicately walking the line between parenting and being a friend. Not quite a fave aunt, not quite the mother figure either. Second marriages are never easy to begin with, second marriages with children thrown into the mix are even harder. I cannot even begin to describe how I felt when I heard Riccardo and Gabriel articulate that word, “parent” and realising they meant me. It was like walking with wings on my heels but a million times better. I literally teared up.
2. How did these achievements make me feel?
From a work standpoint, it was pure relief. And a new found respect for people who create websites as a full-time profession.
Through the eyes of a blogger, I unearthed many aspects of myself I did not know existed (some good, some really not very good) so suffice to say it was a period of discovery.
From a personal perspective, I felt good. Very very good. And (understandably) nostalgic.
3. What were my 3 biggest challenges or obstacles I faced last year? How did I overcome them? Who did I become as a result?
First – Procrastinating. Flying by the seat of my pants. Winging things and feeling absolutely certain I’d meet deadlines because, you know, I can write. Which is pure bullshit because no matter how well one can write, a fair amount of planning still has to come into play whenever work is concerned (be it for my full-time job or the blog). Planning. Investigating. Fact-finding. Discerning and concluding. And all these need to happen before the actual writing even begins. And thanks to this trait of mine, I’ve missed deadlines and, for the blog, lost clients (and revenue) and upset friends who probably never ever want to collaborate with me again. Which sucks. Terribly. To be perfectly honest, if it wasn’t for my “real world” job, I
probably wouldn’t have enough money to live on. I need to must change that. Prepare a plan to encompass creative development, business development, and personal growth. Find a way to sufficiently manage my life and come up with a realistic schedule, stick to it, and deliver. Period.
Second – From the age of 10 to 13, I was sexually molested by a family member. I know for a fact that this is the root of practically all my issues. Insecurities. How I see myself (and I don’t mean just body dysmorphia). I suppressed the memories, as one tends to do with anything that traumatic, but last year in particular, it was hard. Flashes. Loads of flashes. A touch from my husband would ignite a memory, making me recoil. A specific smell. A sound. Parts of a song. Chrysanthemums. Yes, it was hard. And it took a toll not just on my already strained self but also on my relationship with my husband because I could not see why he would love me. How I could possibly be enough for him. And I was positive he was checking out other women as replacements (the mind thinks what it wants) because I was simply inadequate. Broken. Dirty. Unworthy. If ever there was an award for husband of the year, Pierluigi deserved it for what we went through in 2017. I, in turn, accused him of practically every infidelity under the sun; begged him to not leave me; and treated him like scum of the earth. Because he knew of my past, my husband did all he could to constantly reassure me, through words and actions, and everything in between. Yet it was never sufficient to quell those thoughts, those whispers. We went through quite the hell. And found strength in the process. And that is why I said earlier on that our relationship is one of my greatest achievements in the turmoil of what 2017 was. I am still learning to deal with what happened to me, and I realise I need help, a lot a lot of help, but we made it through. Whoever created the mould for a soul, used the same one twice, once on me, and once on him.
Third – My health was as fickle as the temperature here in Houston last year. One moment I was on top of the world, slaying workouts like a beast and feeling invincible. The next, I’d be plagued by persistent bouts of Angioedema in places where God never intended for swelling to occur, requiring the presence of Prednisone in my life once again. It seemed that ingestion became a trigger for me, something which had never happened before, and worse, foods which had not presented a problem in the past, quickly became an issue. On top of all that, as part of my rotator surgery in early October, I had to undergo a pre-op medical evaluation, which I assumed I would ace with flying colours. Theoretically I did but then they discovered that I had extra heartbeats. Eight extra beats per minute. To cut the story short, essentially I have Athletic Heart Syndrome or Exercise-Induced Cardiomegaly, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but apparently makes my cardiologist a wee bit concerned because although my heart is as strong as a horse (my resting heart rate averages 48 to 50 beats per minute), my blood pressure remains 160 to 180/90 to 120 despite medication. I have secondary hypertension due to endocrine disorders. And that bosom buddy of mine? That SLE? It’s still there. It’s still very much a work-in-progress. So yes, health-wise, 2017 was beyond a rollercoaster ride.
Embellished Jacket (from the husband) | Dress & Oversized Sunnies (Poshmark) | Gladiator Ankle Booties (Baker’s) | Choker (c/o ManicPanic) | Lipstick (22 @ Kylie Cosmetics)
And that was the first of a tri-part sharing deal for this week. The second one (slated for Wednesday) investigates whether these events I dissected today have affected me in any way, for better or for worse, what parts I wish I could have done differently, that sort of thing. And on Friday, I’ll talk about the cornerstones of my life, the people who matter most, and if I felt fulfilled by the events of 2017.
Was I far too revealing?
Did I share too much?
How would you have answered these questions yourself?
p/s my photos are by Sofia Touassa
I link up here.
Your writing never ceases to amaze me, my dear, dear friend! You are so truthful and soul searching all in one.
I, on the other hand, are way more fluff and fun—at least on the written page. And that’s why I love reading your words and have enjoyed our friendship so dearly!!
And your description of you and your husband made me smile with joy. Because you deserve that. Maybe it’s an Italian thing? Because my hubby and I have that same kind of relationship. Many people (including my moms) don’t get it. But to me, it’s heaven on earth.
Sending love and hugs for tomorrow!!
Wow Sheela! You had quite a year. When I think of what you had to go through, well I can’t of course. And what a strong man your husband must be! Be proud that he loves you! You deserve a man like that!😘😘😘😘😘 Happy New year love, that it may be a better one!
It’s so good to hear of a marriage that is good and strong Sheela. It’s been quite a year for you! Happy new year to you Sheela xx
May your year be filled with great thing for your family this year, keep strong and run the race.
I loved reading about your marriage – a happy home life is worth more than any amount of $$$. Sorry for all the physical challenges you had to face, and here’s hoping the next year will be a smoother ride. thanks for sharing about yourself – people are infinitely more interesting than fashion! xox
Sharing your story of 2017 was great. I feel good to read about your marriage. Great that it is strong. This year will be better than last. Wishing you loads of love n luck.
I always enjoy reading your posts Sheela, your writing is exceptional. It’s lovely to hear that your relationship with your husband is so strong. I hope 2018 brings you good health and happiness. Thank you for linking up!
No dear, you did not share too much. For me you can never share too much. I am such an extravert, I tell the whole world everything about me, so you won’t ever shock me.
You have been through a lot dear, really a lot. So applause to you for still standing. As for your years from 11-13, I think you will never resolve that without a good psychologist. One you feel a click with, one you trust. But that is up to you.
Being called a parent as a stepmum… I know the feeling. I am a stepmother to my husband’s daughter and remember the time she referred to me as her mother instead of her stepmother. What a moment.
Looking forward to the next post.
You are one of the most amazing women I have ever met in my entire life! Your ability to share your struggles publicly and how you have overcome them (or perhaps are still struggling to overcome them) reaches me on a level that many cannot. I respect you. I admire you. I adore you. I am honored to call you, this strong, powerful, phoenix of a person, my friend!