One Hell of a Niki M. Clark

After my last post, I realized how much depression has taken over my life. Whether it because of life circumstances (newlyweds and cancer is a sucky situation), genetics or a combination of the two, depression is something that has been a familiar visitor, even from a young age.

Sometimes I think it’s from caring too much. Lin use to joke I was like the Grinch who stole Christmas, after his “heart grew four sizes that day.” Except in all that room, I usually leave little to no room for me. Tim has often gotten angry at me for asking what can I do, does he want something, all whilst in the midst of a chemo-induced illness from the couch.

It’s an issue, one I’ve struggled with for a long time. I have a really, really, really hard time saying what I need and putting myself as a priority. I envy those who speak their mind without worrying about hurting other people’s feelings. Who accept the help of others freely.

After the response I got from actually being honest about my feelings, I realized I need to say what I think. And more importantly, if I don’t put myself number one, I will never break this cycle. Give, give, give. Expect others to know what I want. Eventually go into self-bashing depression/exhaustion/resentment because they don’t and I’ve been disingenuous to myself. To the people that mean the most to me.

This isn’t a new realization, obviously. I know myself well enough to know my strengths and my weaknesses. But as my dear friend Molly told me the other day, perhaps this is the really awful way I finally learn how to vocalize my wants and needs. That I start putting myself first.

To me, that feels selfish. I love taking care of everyone else. But I’ve got to ignore that instinct to put myself last because my life (and sanity) are riding on it. I can’t survive cancer only to have killed my soul in the process.

So I start with baby steps. I finally sign up for that yoga class I’ve been meaning to do for months. And I actually go. And it feels amazing. My body isn’t as weak as I thought. I come home and sit on the patio with a cup of coffee and a book. I make plans to fall in love with me again. To rediscover my own unique interests and hobbies, the one that are the first to fall to the wayside when life gets too busy (when is it not?). To recognize the amazing and awesome and kick ass warrior I am. That yes, I am a wife and a mom and a daughter and a sister and a friend but first, I am me, and that’s who I am most accountable to. That I can’t be good any of those other things until I’m a good me.

When I was in the eighth or ninth grade we had to make posters about ourselves. I remember writing down all the things that made me, me. I look like Sloth from the Goonies when I laugh. I am a really awful storyteller. (Thus the constant parentheses in my blog entries, I always ended up telling six stories over the course of one!) My nose is like putty, I can push it from side to side. (No longer, hah!) I cry at most commercials. I tell on myself constantly. All these ridiculous things that when combined made me, me. “I may not be a good Cindy Crawford, ” it started (my epitome of the perfect woman back in 1992). And after listing all these strange and wonderful qualities, I ended, “but I make one hell of a Niki M. Clark.”

I should be proud. I will get there. But today, I will just be grateful. Grateful to even have the chance to learn this lesson. I guess God is determined for me to get it, one way or the other.


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