TMI on my birthday

Every year as I inch toward birthday time I build a list of lessons I’ve learned throughout the last year of my life. I’ve shared a few of those lists on my blog. It’s rewarding & fun to reflect.

This year- on the 27th anniversary of my birth, I am not going to make a list of 27 things I learned. I’m just going to share one major lesson I learned this year. One life-changing lesson.

Being 26 wasn’t {exactly} a walk in the park for me. *More like a legit hold-on-for-dear-life emotional rollercoaster. And though this story is deep & crazy-personal, I rank it worthy of sharing to benefit my own healing & also for those who share similar struggles- for those who might question their worth or place in this world.

I often feel a bit vulnerable when I blog about things of a TMI nature, or when I share my testimony about sacred things. Sometimes I’ll even write long posts & keep them as drafts for myself. I try to listen to my heart before I bare my soul to cyberspace. But today my heart says {click publish}.

It’s no mystery to those that know me that I am a relatively happy person. I generally smile. I want life to be easy for others. I believe in compliments, laughing, joking, sarcasm, and I’d wink if I knew how. I enjoy searching for the miniature joys in the little things of life. I see the glass almost full to the brim. I believe happiness is a choice. I am super cheesy & delight in the beauty of a rainbow & the smell of flowers {gardenias especially.} Things as mundane as exact change and full toilet paper rolls make my day.

Well, deep inside that happy person that everyone knows…has lived a very confused, misunderstood, insecure, lost, scared little girl. She’s lived there for many, many years. During this last year I became well acquainted with her. She started taking over….{stealing all the joy.}

I knew in my mind I had a kazzilion things to be grateful for. I knew in my mind that i was, in many ways, living the life i had always dreamed. I grew up with loving parents who gifted me a blessed, happy childhood. I lived in a country free of oppression. I married great guy who honored and loved me. I had two beautiful babies. No major tragedies had touched my world. I had the gospel….knowledge of who I was, and where I was going. I knew in my mind I had all of that! I felt horrible for feeling sorry for myself when there are people in this world who knew real pain, real fear and trial. I felt so ashamed & guilty for being sad and angry when I had so very much to be thankful for!

For some reason though, completely untouchable from the help of my mortal loved ones, I have always had a part of me that believed I didn’t measure up. It didn’t matter what anyone said, any amount of love that was shown or any compliment that was paid to me. I didn’t believe it. I never felt as good, worthy, or enough. My mind literally reeled daily with snippets of my life….times at which I had fallen short, embarrassed myself, failed, spelled something wrong, showed up late to an appointment, been treated unkind, treated someone else unkind, felt humiliated, etc. I didn’t hate the real me, I just hated that I couldn’t be everything I expected of me.

Sparing you the nitty-gritty, I will just say that this led me on a path of people pleasing city. I was pulling all nighters, trying to do everything, not being able to do everything and then beating myself up for it. There was an obsession with being perfect. An obsession with how others viewed me. I compared myself to other people in the most unfair way. In many areas of my life I simply gave up because it was too hurtful to not be able to be 100% perfect at it. I started hating my body and continued abusing it with overeating. Outside relationships became difficult, and my anxiety level was off the charts & affecting my day-to-day function. I would slap on some marykay lipstick and a smile when I needed to. But times were dark and hard. I would blog about the obvious, wonderful, happy things around me to *try* to keep myself positive, while my inner soul was aching. My husband & a few aware family members would help and pray for me. But it was all inside of me. Stuff I needed to deal with. I felt trapped in my cycles and completely self absorbed. *You get the picture.

The {really} good news is, I had a turning point. One day in December {2009} I just wanted to be free of all of those feelings and emotion. I wanted more than ever before to stop the drama & just live my life peacefully.

I sought help from someone who I rank earthly-angel status in my life, who has taught me a lesson I pray I will never forget. She’s taught me many lessons, but the main of which being, that The Savior is very personally the ultimate source of freedom from mess. In fact, He’s the master mess cleaner upper. I have known that ever since baptism, but obviously had a hard time {really} applying it to me. {Really} believing that the atonement applied to me, Angie Dunn, a twenty-somethin' mom who lives in Mesa, Arizona. {Really} believing that it was possible to let go of that girl who didn’t believe she was good enough.

Well. It’s possible. Because I am letting go. I have let go. I will continue to let go. I have stopped defining myself as “that girl with the low self esteem.” I have stopped trying to be that un-attainable "perfection" & have started striving to just listen more closely to what Heavenly Father thinks the priority is. He is much kinder, less demanding & more forgiving than I have ever been to myself.

It's been by & through The Atonement of Jesus Christ that such has been do-able. I have felt his hands scoop away pain. I have felt his empathy as I have expressed my insecurities through prayer. In some areas of my life He has helped me facilitate change, while in other areas He has just inspired acceptance. I have felt more inner-joy lately than I ever thought possible. And I have Him as a momentary resource when any battle I face in the future should freak me out.

It hasn’t been an easy process. Repenting, forgiving, letting go, changing…it’s all hard. It doesn’t come all at once. It’s hard! At some points it’s felt, especially in my relationships, that it gets worse before it gets better. Though not easy, the process is simple. For me, it started with a million every-hour-I-need-thee type of prayers. I learned that I was scared of repentance for fear that I would fail again, and then I had a light bulb moment that taught me: The Savior’s atonement is ever-reachable to that discouragement too. In fact: I discovered that truthfully, He could handle, clean up, understand, empathize, and relate to every embarrassing, uncomfortable, seemingly-insignificant detail of my life that was threatening my happiness.

Through the spirit I have received answers. I learned that feeling the spirit doesn’t necessarily mean having a grand epiphany on the pew at church. It can be manifested through the sun shining in a happy way, a tiny feeling that everything’s going to be okay, a creative idea to resolve a difficult situation, an enlightening thought, the urgency to read a certain article or scripture for guidance, the unexpected kindness of a stranger/family member, or a pressing feeling that something is true. Through those things I started discovering true joy again.

So today, on my birthday, what I do have for sure, is bigger than any gift I have ever received: the {experienced} knowledge that Jesus Christ heals and restores. He is real and available to all of us. And I know this because he has eased my burdens and lightened my load this past year more than anyone will ever know. I don’t feel like a different person….I feel like the authentic me.

I welcome my late 20’s, 30’s and beyond. I feel alive again. With this experience I feel better equipped to face any difficult trials that will inevitably cross my path in the coming years. I am full of gratitude. I know Jesus is real with all the conviction of my heart. And I candidly share this raw slice of my journey here, to publicly acknowledge his hand in my life & remind anyone who is questioning….He is there for you too. ♥


•stephanie• said...

you are wise WAY beyond your years, my dear.
(and you look stunning, by the way!)
happy, happy, happy number 27.
i bet you'll always remember this one . . .

Coree Adams said...

Ang, thanks for sharing this. Seriously. Love you, the new you, the old you, just YOU!

runningfan said...

Thanks for being real! You are an example to me in every way.

granny said...

Welcome home.

The Wizzle said...

You look so beautiful, and you sound so happy, and that is a winning combination. Happy birthday, and I hope this year is even better than the last.

Bev said...

What a wonderful journey you've been on......and what a wonderful lesson you've learned. My life has been blessed because of YOU....and aren't you just the most adorable thing!!!! ♥ you!!

Staci said...

I'm so glad you shared this. I needed to hear this...
as I'm sure many others do too.

So Thank You...even though that does really not express how grateful I am that you posted this.

You have some incredible insight & I'm glad you are feeling alive again! Cheers to YOU! Happy Happy Birthday...go do something fun, while rocking that new hairstyle! You look hot!

KP said...

hey angie! this is kellie mcdonald (parisek) if you forgot cause i hardly ever comment anymore but ALWAYS read your blog still.
that was amazing to read. seriously i need to hear that because i have always struggled with my self esteem. thank you for sharing this. you are amazing.
for some reason it can be easy to forget the simple things in life that truly make us happy.
like remembering our Savior and His love for us.
Thank you for reminding me and everyone that the Savior is the true healer and can save us from our sorrows here on earth.
i love you and your blog so much!!!!!
and your two girls are so adorable

KP said...

ps i can tell you have lost weight. WAY TO GO!!!

Unknown said...

I'm glad you clicked publish. I'm sure that there is not one person who hasn't felt like she wasn't worth it in some area (if not lots) of her life. Thank you for your sincere testimony. And just so you know, you testify of Christ in so many of your posts in such a sincere unassuming way that this won't be a shock to anyone. Love ya, babe. (And I mean it. And you're worth it. And Happy Birthday, cuz I almost forgot to say that.)

Emily K Jacob A said...

I love this post. I'm so glad your little heart told you to "publish." Angie, I know we've never been very close but you should know you are so often in my thoughts. You are so positive, but I know some of the struggles you have faced could not have been easy. I have often looked to you as an example when facing what I have imagined are some of the same emotions. It takes courage, so much courage to share our experiences going through troubled waters. I can promise you, you have more cheerleaders than you are presently aware of. And of those, I may call myself a captain. Thank you for your honesty, for choosing to share your joys and hardships to help others, and may this year bring you all the wonderful things you deserve to have coming to you! Love you girl!

And p.s. You look Gorgeous!!

Emily K Jacob A said...

And happy birthday!!!

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing.

It meant something to me.

And Happy B-Day.

mademoisellechitchat said...


LOVE YOU! LOVE YOURSELF! You are an amazing young woman. It's normal to have self doubts. I am approaching my late thirties, have accomplished a lot, and I still have my share of thoughts. Then, I have to remember that God does NOT make any junk; we are all valuable treasures!!!!!!!

I haven't forgotten about Chloe. Everything is a 4, not a 4T. Is there much of a difference?

Britney {Jesses Girl} said...

Ang -- you're amazing. and i LOVE this post. it's so real. and that's what makes it so great. :) happy birthday!

Maddi said...

Thanks Ang. I needed that.
Happy birthday!

Maddi said...

Thanks Ang. I needed that.
Happy birthday!

Marilyn said...

I ♥ u, my friend who taught me how to make these ♥♥♥ :) Thank you for sharing~It sounds like you had a wonderful birthday. Your testimony has strengthened and enriched my day.

heather said...

I think every woman alive needs to read this exact post. I think it should be read from pulpits and in visiting teaching messages.

Also, your hair is way cute & so are the earrings, and so are you.

Marie said...

I am on the cheer squad for you too! Thanks for giving us this gift on your birthday, and sharing something so special to you. I means a lot to me. You are awesome, you are beautiful, and you are so fun!
Happy Birthday!

Cassie said...

Your hair cut is adorable. Happy Birthday girl!

kacee said...

No words, just tears....

Thank you.

Carrie said...

I was just referred to you from a goddess in progress and I have to say this post is amazing. Thank you so much. I just recently wrote a post about feelings of inadequacy and I really needed to read this!

Tausha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tausha said...

I haven't been on the computer all week. You know-life has just gotten in the way. The Lord told me I needed to get on today.
This is what He wanted me to read. You my sister-have strengenthed me, lifted me and encouraged me. Your words have touched my heart and soul. You reminded me of things-I didn't know I had forgotten. Your strength is what I needed. Guess the Lord knew that. A tender mercy.
I know it is your birthday-and you should be the one recieving the gifts-but you have given me a gift this year. You have brightened my day, lifted my heart and made me a better person by your words.
Thank you for sharing. Happy belated Birthday!

Leisa Tapia said...

Hey angie, I'm Leisa, a friend/old neighbor of Leslie Woolfs... I just read your post here about your TMI birthday, which I love by the way. :)
I feel like it's me... the future me. However, right now I'm stuck in self loathing, not-good-enough-for-anything-land.
For some reason or another.. I just felt like clicking on your blog link today... maybe I just needed to be pointed back to the Atonement.

Thank you :) for the TMI... that {click publish} feeling was worth it. thanks

Unknown said...

Just read this again. SO what I needed to read today! Love you.