Around this time last year I listened to an episode from Pursuit with Purpose podcast, where Sunny Lenarduzzi shared that she writes herself a letter about how proud she is of herself. I wrote a similar journal prompt last year and you can read it here. In this season of uncertainty, it is absolutely imperative that we reflect on what we’ve endured and persevered through because we have, you have. Even if we’ve lived like this for nearly a year, its a year that we couldn’t have fully prepared for physically and mentally. I invite you to sit down in a quiet space where you cannot be disturbed and write this as honestly as you can to yourself. Be vulnerable. Celebrate what you are most proud of about how you handled 2020. Write about the tough moments. Tell yourself you are proud of how you kept pressing forward and why this is important to you. You deserve to remember that you are resilient, brave, and strong.
While I normally don’t share journal entries, I am sharing in hopes that you write yourself a letter too.
So here goes…
Dear Maryann, Well shit. This year was awful.
I’m not quite sure how you survived this year in a decently coherent state but here you are – bruised and bent but not broken.
This year has exposed more traumas, shame, and mom guilt like never before.
You had the biggest miscommunications and arguments with people closest to you this year. This was one of the hardest years for you. It was extremely for you to swallow your pride to admit you were wrong and apologize. Hey guess what – you did something that you were never taught to do. I am proud of you for that. Its not easy to be that vulnerable, hold space for other people’s feelings, acknowledge that you wronged them and then move forward with a fresh set of eyes and new understandings. Unlearning and relearning isn’t easy. Be kind to yourself. You know change doesn’t happen overnight.
This year, your marriage was tested to its absolute breaking point but you managed to extend compassion along with a hard boundary. You and Chris became more emotionally intimate with each other with the help of therapy and radical empathy. Supporting a recovery addict is complex and overwhelming but I think you are continuing to handle it beautifully. Like you say often – you are an amazing wife. You deserve trust, respect, and unconditional support.
Can we just talk about how you expanded your brands The Filipino Mom blog and Maryann Clark Coaching: Radiate Life!?!? Like whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…..and how did you do all those things in the middle of a pandemic. Like is it sorcery or what? I see you doing the work to heal yourself on a daily basis and it shows in how expansive your brands has become. You are a worthy of all the success. You are worthy of the accolades. You are worthy of being seen – scars, imperfections, and all. This work is invaluable to our community. Continue to follow your inner knowing and creating safe spaces for everyone to feel seen and celebrated.
Last but not least, you have leaned into your faith more than ever before. Looking outside of yourself and leaning on Christ was truly how you managed the year that is 2020. Revile in how you utilized all that faith and hope. When you felt overwhelmed with life’s struggles, you listened to His still small voice. You knew the answer was always to love first and lead second. Being bent and bruised in a broken world is not easy but you did it anyways. You continued – believing that God will see you through it. He did. You did. Amen
I encourage you to reread this letter next year to remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished. 2020 was an unspeakable mountain to climb and you’ve handled it with humility, grace and grit. Let’s growwwwwww!!!!
I joke a lot about how my husband wouldn’t survive if we got a divorce. In my defense, he also jokes about how he isn’t able to function without my help either. While playful banter comes easy to us on a daily basis, mustering up the courage to tell him about my depression felt next to near impossible.
As I explained in the Asking for Help Series, I can confidently say that is not typically how I tell him my feelings. In fact, its far beyond how I share how I feel. I usually fall into his arms and cry. He, in turn, will hug me tightly and ask what’s wrong. This guy has known me for 20 years. So he has learned that sometimes all I need is a hug and the statement “It’ll be ok.” So this shower talk business wasn’t typical and I know I caught him by surprise.
I have asked my husband, to give his honest reaction and response to when I told him about my mental health. This journey is his as well. He has been there from the beginning.
M: What did you first think when I shared my depression and anxiety diagnosis with you?
H: I recall that when you shared your depression and anxiety self-diagnosis with me, I was rather quick to dismiss how you felt, merely chalking it up to a bad day. I never associated the fact that how you were feeling at that time were true symptoms of what would later be confirmed as having depression.
M: How did you feel?
H : I felt helpless in a way, primarily due to the fact that I knew next to nothing about depression and anxiety.
M: What did you do after my diagnosis was confirmed?
H: I then began researching and reading articles online regarding depression and anxiety. It was important for me to understand the challenges and obstacles associated with depression and anxiety, so that I can help in the areas of support and encouragement.
M: How has your opinion on mental health changed from the first diagnosis to now?
H: I’d say that I have a deeper appreciation now for the importance of mental health. It’s certainly an important topic that I believe deserves more credence.
He makes me better
I credit my husband’s unconditional support early on in managing my depression for my success in managing my depression today. More importantly, he will continue to be a big part of why I have been successful at managing my mental health. His unconditional support motivates me to be the best person I can be. On my worst mental health day, he gave me something that many can not grasp in the darkness – hope.
He would text me everyday to ensure I got out of bed. If I wasn’t able to, he would give me a pep talk to make it a goal for the next day. He made himself available during work hours, which is very hard in his profession, for me to call if I needed to talk my feelings through. He was supportive in allowing me to find my self care routine even if that meant I would try unconventional treatments. My husband is a large reason why I am able to share my story with you today.
I absolutely understand that this isn’t a typical response from a Filipino man but I want to encourage you to share those deep parts of yourself with someone you trust. It is the only way you can help yourself begin accepting and managing mental illness.
Do you have someone you can trust to talk about your feelings? Comment below and share with that person why they mean so much to you – today.
Remember – its ok to not be ok, tomorrow is a new day! See you next week.
Before you read any further, I want to extend my deepest gratitude that you are actually on my blog and reading anything on here. Putting your feeling on full display isn’t easy and I am so blessed to have this platform. I appreciate your presence.
Hey TFM fam! The Filipino Mom blog is officially one month old. Wooohooo!!! (Yup I’m a “wooohooo girl”) To say that I have learned so much this past month is an understatement. I have so many feelings about just reaching this date. I can’t begin to describe all the feelings I am experiencing.
The biggest feeling I have is relief. I know that may sound weird but hear me out. The Filipino culture is big on saving face or “hiya ” (shame) to the family. Once I decided to create this blog, as I stated in “Don’t air your dirty laundry” post, I nervously warned my mom about why I wanted to create this blog. Her hesitated response was proof that there is a possibility that I would bring shame to our family. Yes that sounds absurd to those not part of our culture but that was a real fear.
So much so that I was having anxiety attacks prior to launch. There were many times that I didn’t want to go through with publishing the blog. Hence, the countdown and giveaway for blog launch. I had a time and date for launch to allow my anxious mind to prepare. It was the only way I could “control” the situation, actually launch the blog, and keep a generally sane mind. It helped.
I am relieved that this blog has been received, generally well, by the Filipino Community. So far, I haven’t heard any backlash, chismis/tsismis (gossip) from the Aunties, or random people on any social media platform. While I am absolutely aware that this blog is in its infancy, it still amazes me the amount of acceptance and support I have gotten in this short amount of time. I’ve received DMs from so many Filipinxs who expresses their appreciation that I have created a platform to encourage them to be their true self even in their most darkest spaces. If you are reading this and we have had conversations, know that I appreciate you more than you can fathom. You are encouraging me just as much with being here, reading this blog. Mental illness is very isolating and to know you are not alone in your struggles is truly a blessing to keep moving forward.
The 3 BE’s I’ve learned
While I am not an experience blogger at all. Like if you assumed that I know what I’m doing – here is the God honest truth — I DO NOT. I honestly haven’t even scratched the surface of what a blogger/influencer does on a regular basis BUT I have learned so many things about myself these past three months. YES even if the blog just launched a month ago, I’ve been working on it since the beginning of the year. Creating content isn’t instantaneous, guys. Its been a long three months and I want to share what I’ve learned with you because I feel that these lessons, while simple, have challenged my inner narrative about what I am capable of.
BEing a blogger is hard work
The learning curve to launch a blog is incredibly steep. Imagine, if you will, learning a new language in one week. That is exactly how I felt the moment I met with two friends to pitch the idea for this blog. Both friends’ eyes immediately lit up with excitement and told me this was a fantastic idea. “Cool, now what?” Thankfully, these amazingly talented friends have experience in content marketing and freelance writing. So they each gave me a crash course in what I needed to do in a timeline of immediately, near future, and down the road.
My brain (and anxiety) needs things broken down in those terms because if they aren’t I will do everything at once and then burn myself out. So I was intimidated by the terms and strategies – insert anxiety attack and hysterical crying here. I knew NOTHING and this seemed nearly impossible to even attempt.
Duh – nothing is impossible with God. SO I watched YouTube videos, read blogs, went to WordPress Word Camp (highly recommend by the way), stalked other bloggers I love, asked other bloggers/influencers I knew for advice, researched, cried, and repeat. The blog and social media platforms you see today are a culmination of all my work. While I am satisfied by the look, feel, and flow of the blog and social media platforms, I know I have a LOT to learn, research, and develop — like how in the world do you understand SEO and analytics. If you have recommendations, please send them.
BElieve in yourself
I have a very unforgiving depression/anxiety voice in my head. It is downright nasty. I would never talk to my kids, friends, family or husband this way. My anxiety stems from my fear of not being adequate enough to fill a roll — any roll — like being a wife, mother, friend, sister, coach, small group leader, anything — I am not adequate. YES I put up a great persona of knowing what I’m doing but I DON’T – guys, I’m winging life just like you.
I battled that voice on a daily basis while prepping for this blog launch. Am I looking for sympathy or a pat on the back? — NOPE. I want you to know that voice has no hold over you and what you are capable of. What it is saying to you is NOT true. It’s ALL a lie. All of it. You have already been told who you are in Christ. And, just in case you FORGOT, here are a few verses to remind you who YOU are in Christ:
I am God’s child. – Galatians 3:26 I am a whole new person with a whole new life. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 I am a place where God’s Spirit lives. – 1 Corinthians 6:19 I am God’s Incredible work of art. – Ephesians 2:10 I am totally and completely forgiven. – 1 John 1:9 I am God’s messenger to the world. – Acts 1:8 I am the light of the world. – Matthew 5:14 I am greatly loved. – Romans 5:8
Now don’t get me wrong, I still battle that voice everyday and I still have to talk myself out of my bed and turn on my laptop BUT I want you to know that you are absolutely capable of anything your heart desires. You have already been given everything you need to serve the world with your unique gifts. So go out and do it. Now.
I have always been insecure about my height, body shape, and after having five kids, my self perception is pretty low. Recently, I have been putting more of an effort at learning what clothes look good on my body, how to put on makeup to enhance my natural beauty, make new friends (thank God for MOPS) and exercising my body to raise my energy level. Why am I telling you this? Well its because I am posting photos of myself all dressed up and I normally don’t look like that 90% of the time. I’m usually in yoga pants, jeans, or legging with a top that usually has a stain on it because I can never eat food correctly; without makeup and just dry shampoo’d my hair. My stay-at-home Mom fashion game is strong and I want to transform into who Maryann is. In launching this blog, my insecurities became more apparent. So I have to remind myself AGAIN of God’s promises and that allows me to move forward with a little more courage.
I will never be a GoFitJo, Jordan Page, or Susie Styles, its just not who I am and I am ok with that. I am Maryann and I know I will find my place in this blogger world, I just need time. If you ever feel out of place, don’t get down on yourself, just give yourself more time to grow.
Ok enough about me! I want you to go out there and be the light of the world. I know you can absolutely change the world in your own unique way. It is what we were called to do. To help you do this, I have embedded two audio links to Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl, Stop Apologizing to PUMP YOU UP (If you said that in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice we can be friends). I’m still getting through the book and seriously guys, its so good. Enjoy these excerpts and get started on that dream. I believe you can, so you should believe it too.