In January I read an article by an exceptional blogger and friend titled Know Better, Do Better. She talks about the fine line between giving grace and making excuses and how we constantly dance on that line as parents and spouses. It stuck with me this year. I remember her words when I catch myself in a situation where I know I could do better. I think these moments are normal. We have them everyday. It’s just a matter of being aware that it’s happening and choosing to do better. Unfortunately, there are days or even seasons in life that we are not self-aware, and that can be dangerous.
Have you ever had what we refer to as “one of those days.” Has it ever turned into one of those weeks? What about one of those years? Whose fault was it? Have you ever stopped to think why those days are stringing together endlessly until you look back and realize you’ve been walking around under a rain cloud like Charlie Brown for much longer than you’d like to admit? I’ve been there. I call those my twenties. The divorce decade of my life when I was suffocating with excuses as to why I wasn’t happy, and trying to figure out whose fault it was. Surely there was someone to blame for everything that was going wrong.
The danger in letting your excuses pile up is when you’ve exhausted them all and there is no excuse good enough to hide behind, then it’s easy to start placing blame. Divorce, bad financial situations, a frustrating career, and weight gain have everything to do with the cards life dealt me and nothing to do with how I chose to play them. Right? That’s what I let myself believe.
Sure, there were plenty of happy memories mixed in during that time, first and foremost being the birth of my son, but overall it was a trying decade. Specifically when I was going through a divorce at the age of 24. I was pregnant with my son at that time. I got scared of having a split family and sharing weekends and holidays, so I gave my marriage another chance. I was only delaying the inevitable because I filed for divorce again at the age of 27.
I grew up with parents that were happily married. We’re only months away from celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary. (Can we pause and acknowledge that for a minute.) Call me sheltered, but that’s what I thought married life would be. I thought it was all family dinners, traditions, and vacations. I thought the worst fight we would get in was the one about where to go eat for dinner. What went wrong? Why was this happening to me? I felt like such a failure. I needed to know who to blame. For a while I thought it would help.
I found out it was more than easy to place blame when I was going through a divorce. It was easy to make excuses and tell my side of the story. It was clear who was to blame. It was easy but it didn’t help me at all. Playing the blame game did not create a happy family and home life for me or my son, and it most definitely was not going to set me on the path to have all the things I wanted in life. I wanted a married life like my parents have. I knew it was possible, because I witnessed it, but trying to identify the obstacles that held me back only held me back.
How did I change to make my life change? I could say that I just chose to be happy, but I think that’s an untrue and almost mean thing to say. Especially to a mom and wife facing divorce or a single mom just trying to be mom, dad, and career woman all day everyday. If it was that easy everyone would be perfectly happy all the time, and there would be no such thing as excuses or blame.
No I didn’t just choose happiness. I wasn’t bummed one day and happy the next. I didn’t start posting motivational quotes on social media “just living my best life” and then I was. I actually chose to become self-aware. I stopped asking why. Why is this happening to me? I don’t have control over why things happen. I only have control over how I handle myself. I get to decide how I play the cards life dealt me. So I started asking, what can I do better? What can I learn from this situation? Things began to evolve over time. I made new habits and trained myself to see things from a different perspective. That’s when I began to see positive changes in my life. That’s when I found happiness and contentment.
I started with myself, and that was the smartest decision I could have made. I did not start trying to be a better mom or do better at work. I did not start with looking for a husband. I started with my health. I decided this was my starting point because it was the easiest part of my life to take control of.
So I went on a crash diet of grilled chicken and green beans. I lived for gym time and became a bikini model. Just kidding.
I started with my mental health. This meant dropping the excuses. I was too tired, too busy, too stressed, too over weight, too divorced to find my path to a happy life. It meant that I had to quit finding something or someone to blame. My ex husband, my financial situation, single mom life were my road blocks to my happiness. I had to dig through all the excuses and blame to regain control. I had to change me to change my life. This is what I told myself, and as things started to change in my life, I would think, “I’m doing it. I am changing me.” I was really proud. Now eight years later, I realize I didn’t change me, I found me. She was always there hidden away under the mountain of excuses. She was blaming herself and others for the life she didn’t have.
I took control of myself. All the things I thought kept me from being healthy, fit, and happy; the things I thought prevented me from having a strong financial situation, a job that I am passionate about, and a family life like the one I grew up in are all still there. All those things I used as excuses and pointed the finger of blame at all still exist, and they did hold me back for a while because I let them. I was afraid if I quit blaming them, then I would let them win. When I shifted my focus I shifted my life. I fought for, dreamed of, and prayed for a life that now I get to live. And that is a win.Know Better, Do Better over at Called and Capable, do so! You won’t regret having found Crissy’s blog. It is full of beautiful knowledge and tips on life, marriage, and parenting.