Hello fine readers of Then Heather Said! I am Julie from the little space on the interwebs called “Cookies and Cheese”. When Heather asked me to do a guest post about healthy living I didn’t even need to think before saying yes. Heather is an amazing writer who speaks from her soul and it’s an honor to be writing for her blog.
My road to healthy living began about 5.5 years ago when I started working full time and started dating my first “real” boyfriend. I joined a gym for the first time and really paid more attention to what I put into my body. Within a few months I had lost some weight and a few years later I was about 30 pounds lighter than when I started out. I felt great about myself and loved how I looked. I was also happy in my relationship and life was good. Or so I forced myself to believe.
When I look back on this relationship, my first real long term relationship, I see so many red flags that I wish I could’ve seen back then. It wasn’t an abusive relationship by any means; we were very much in love and treated each other with care and respect…except when my temper got the best of me.
This boyfriend that I had, let’s call him Chip, came from the most stereotypical perfect house hold. There was a loving, doting mom, a dad who was your best pal, and protective big bro and the girliest of girly little sisters. They all got along like the best of friends. Mom and dad were super in love; she was the typical little lady of the house doting on the breadwinning husband. They vacationed together every year, went out on dad’s boat every weekend, spent their winters skiing and were super cheese ball happy. The mom never hesitated to tell me how perfect her son was in all the three years we dated. Literally the woman told me how wonderful her son was every time we went over there house. I didn’t need to be impressed but it’s like she was trying to make me love him even more or something, it honestly made me uncomfortable. They were pretty much the polar opposite of my family and pretty much every family I know. Don’t get me wrong, my parents love each other and my sister and I, but there were disagreements and fights and my sister and I weren’t always the best of friends. We didn’t spend summers on the boat or winters on the slopes or have constant smiles on our faces. We had our ups and downs, knock down drag outs, but we were never lacking in love.
For someone who grew up in a family like mine to date someone who grew up in a family like the Tanner’s is was quite a shock and adjustment. I was expected to be happy 24/7 (just like Chip’s mommy), never get angry or disagree, and pretty much do all the fun activities that Chip and the rest of his family enjoyed and enjoy them myself. I had to ski (I hate the cold and snow and really hate being out in it for extended periods of time) and love it, I had to boat (I can’t swim well and am afraid of open water) and love it, and I had to bike, run, hang out with his friends, do whatever he wanted to do, hang out with his sister, and love every waking minute of it. Now, I realize I could’ve spoken up and said “Hey Chip, can we do something I like to do?” but I was young, it was my first relationship, and I wasn’t sure how all that worked, but most importantly I didn’t know what I liked. In a relationship and in life you grow, you learn about yourself – you become you. But I was young, insecure, unsure, and wrapped up in having a boyfriend. Anything I knew about myself before was repressed and pushed down deep, as were all my true feelings. When Chip did something that made me angry or upset, changed plans without talking to me or acted like an idiot, I couldn’t say how it made me feel because if I was unhappy or showed any sign of being unhappy, that was bad. Arguing and disagreeing meant you were breaking up, to him fights and relationships didn’t go together.
However, my anger and temper can only be held in for so long before it bubbles up and over and creates a huge, giant mess. I had more emotional out bursts in our three years of dating than in my whole life. Not only did I blow up at Chip, but my family as well. Anything would set me off at home and with Chip. I’d flip out every once in a while when I got too filled with anger, jealously and rage. These fights lasted for days, put a strain on us, and drained us emotionally, yet we stayed together. I didn’t realize at the time why I had anger issues but I knew I had them and I wanted to change so I sought help for my problem. I started seeing a therapist to try to get to the bottom of things. Even though I was making an effort to make it work, a few months later, we finally broke up. Chip did the breaking but I knew it was right. Chip needed someone who was truly happy 24/7 and never got angry or annoyed, or showed any emotion other than happiness, and I needed someone who loved me for me. Someone who didn’t care if I didn’t like skiing or disagreed with something he said/did, someone who realizes compromise is a part of a healthy relationship, and that relationships are a partnership, not a dictatorship.
The week after we broke up I felt a way I hadn’t felt in years. I felt like a weight had been lifted. Chip and I weren’t right for each other and I realized that I needed someone to love me for me and not try to mold me into the perfect girlfriend. Chip and I had some fun times together, but in the end I think of a lot of the good was outweighed by the emotional outbursts I had from keeping everything inside.
I learned a lot from that relationship. The most powerful and important lesson I learned was to me 100% of the time and to never ever change for anyone. After we broke up I literally broke out of my shell. I was usually quiet at work; afraid to be myself, but now I could be the real Julie. The Julie who cracks jokes, who is silly, sarcastic and loves making people laugh. Chip wasn’t the one to take an innocent ribbing lightly, so I stopped being too jokey.
My road to healthy living began when Chip and I started dating, but it really took off when we broke up. In order to be healthy you need to start from the inside out. I did the opposite and it took me quite a while to figure it all out, but I can tell you with the utmost confidence that I am a totally different woman than I was 5 years ago. I don’t care much what others think of me, I’m not afraid to be myself or tell it like it is, and I’m not afraid to express any of my feelings. I feel mentally healthy. It’s been liberating and freeing and I love myself more today than I have ever in all my 27 years.
Heather thinks you will enjoy Julie’s hilarity in all forms, but specifically her special ability to tie a 90’s pop culture reference in almost every situation and conversation, and “positive mo’” of the day.
Discussion: Have you ever held yourself back or attempted to appear a certain way to a certain person or group of