This is the Kanji symbol meaning "strength" or "power".
And I just got this tattooed on my ankle. (Sorry mom, if you read this!)
Why did I do that?
It wasn't so long ago, if you asked me to describe myself, I would never have included the word "strong". Not by a long shot.
Let me bust a few skeletons out of my closet to tell you a little about me. I have been heavy since early childhood. At one point I joined a Weight Watchers at Work program and lost a good amount of weight. (But I was definitely dieting then, not making lifestyle changes. That's a whole other story, though!) About that time, a few things happened. Bad choice in men, well really just one bad choice. The family that I grew up in was falling apart. And I was about to turn 29. At the time, that represented to me the fact that I would probably never have kids. I could rationalize why but that's really beside the point. But, it all added up to depression. For awhile the depression was managed well with medications. But I put all the weight I'd lost back on, and then some. I frankly did not care.
So the depression was pretty well controlled for a number of years, then things just went South. I had a chronic pain condition, and I'd volunteered to help start up a new office in my company (same city.) Turns out that was a huge mistake. I began to really hate my job. I should have gone to my doctor and told him the anti-depressants were no longer keeping things under control. But I didn't. Every day I told myself 'tomorrow will be better'. It never was. I almost lost everything.
All of that eventually lead to me hauling off to Florida to work at a stressful job for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. And you know what? Even with that, I started feeling good enough to taper off the anti depressants. When I finished that job, I went back to California, packed up, sold my house and moved to Texas. I really think the 'change of scenery' and stepping out of my old life was what needed to happen.
And I am a different person now. I'm happy. I'm taking control of my life. The weight is coming off. Corny as it sounds, I feel like a butterfly making it's way out of a cocoon.
So what does this have to do with strength? Back on my darkest days, I never believed I had any strength. None. Life was just happening around me. I didn't think I was really capable of making any changes. Or WORTH THE EFFORT to make any changes.
I made a decision a long time ago to not ever regret anything. There is no point. Regret won't undo anything. Regret is just making sure your emotional baggage is packed and stowed away in your brain, making you feel bad. Regret is useless. Everything is an opportunity to learn. If I can look back on those things and say that I've learned something, it was all worth it. I will not regret any of those things that happened in the past. They all needed to happen. I needed to be the person I was then in order to be the person I am now. I truly believe that.
This last couple of years has shown me that I am capable of so much more than I ever gave myself credit for. I'm stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. And I got the tattoo as an ever present reminder to myself that I AM strong and to never lose sight of that.