Friday, May 19, 2017

Hold on. Be strong.

When I got my new phone, I downloaded the TimeHop app to it. It's an often-funny part of my day to look back at the things I've shared in the past. Funny comments, pictures of the kids, funny things they said or did.

Right now, my posts from several years ago are sad. Like, super sad. It was a broken time in a friendship that had left me pretty heartbroken for awhile. -- And I was just sad.

Every time something a little pathetic pops up, I just want to send my 6-years-ago self a little time travel letter that says - "Hold on. Right now hurts - and honestly it's going to hurt for a long time - but hold on. Eventually healing will find you and things will be okay. Be strong."

And, really, I think I'm going to do just that. My 6-years-ago self may not profit from it. But my right-now self will, and my tomorrow self will, and 6-years-from-now self will.

Hold on. Healing will find you. Things will be okay. Be strong.

Friday, May 12, 2017

When You Need to be the ____est"

The day came when it just became too much.

There existed this insistent need inside of me..  A need to be the best, the closest, the most prolific, the rightest, the smartest...  The ____est.

Following the need to be the ____est takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of headspace. A lot of effort, a lot of emotion. A lot of fruitlessness.

Because, really, no matter how great you are at something, you will always be able to find someone who is better at some part of it. Someone who comes along and steals some part of your ____est. And if "____est" is your goal, if "____est" is the definition of your value and your self-worth, then value and self-worth become very elusive things to find.

And eventually that need became too much for me. The journey to "____est" was too much or perhaps just too unrewarding. Too depressing. Too unfulfilling.

The journey to get there couldn't even be enjoyed. Anything less than the best meant not good enough. And a soul can't survive much of that.

So I had to let go of ____est.

Being the best of all was left behind.
Being the best me was maybe picked up.

But I had to figure out what that meant. My best me looked different in some ways than others. I had to decide what good enough looked like... and that took some time.  It still takes time because it keeps changing.

But redefining myself and redefining what success looks like for me...  it made a difference. It made my value attainable. It was the difference between always striving for something unattainable and being happy with who I was...  with who I am.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Day We Struck Oil

(on Monday)


At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we'd struck it rich and that we'd be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we'd spend the money.

My first choice was to buy the biggest swimming pool in the world and fill it with all the ice cream a person could eat. Jamie said that was stupid -- swimming in ice cream would give you frostbite.  You'd have to go with pudding, or maybe peanut butter.

It's not like his list was any better. He just wanted to go to Disneyland every day for a year. Isn't there a limit to how often you could go before you'd get bored??

Jenny said we were both idiots. She wouldn't share her list, but I'm sure it was full of grown-up wishes -- world peace and 401Ks and all that. Jenny was always pretending she was better than us.

I still thought the ice cream pool was a pretty cool idea.  I bet Jenny did, too.

But then the rock I was sitting on blinked.  And the ground began to move, and I remember thinking that maybe we hadn't struck oil after all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

An Old Wound, Reopened

I've made a new friend over the past few months... a sort of serendipitous find where I think we were both something that the other person needed. I am enjoying the friendship -- and we're in the stage of getting to know each other where you slowly tell each other all of your stories.

I like this part of getting to know someone.  Perhaps it is simply the lover of story in me. But I always feel a bit like it's our stories, and how we tell them, that make up who we are and help us to know each other and explain why we think the things we do, feel the things we do, say the things we do.

I'd told her a story about my past... something that, when it happened, had been a source of acute hurt, embarrassment, and inferiority. But something that had done a lot to guide the way I felt about certain things, shaped the things I believed, even formed some of my resentments.

And even though it was something that happened four years ago, the whole thing came flooding back as I told it and as we talked about it. Every wince. Every slap in the face. Every drop of anger. Every bit of "less than."

My heart beat fast. My blood pumped itself to everywhere. I breathed too quickly. Tears threatened to fall.

And it was strange to me that something that happened so long ago could still be felt so acutely.

But, it was felt differently, too.  Where, in the beginning, I rushed to apologize for things that weren't really mine to apologize for...  now, I accepted what happened, but also acknowledged the beliefs and the actions that were wrong. I gave myself permission to be angry and hurt without judging myself for it. And asserted that not everything that someone else believes about me is necessarily true. I get to choose that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New Year Journalling

What was the single best thing that happened this year?

There are some really nice things that happened this year… I got to go to Ireland and see a lot of things that I’ve only heard about the last ten years. We took the kids on a cruise, and that was a lot of fun. We got a kid into counselling, and over the course of the year, that’s helped to make the year end a lot better than it started. I made a new friend in a quarter I hadn’t anticipated. But, perhaps, I’m most glad about some of the changes in myself. I’m not sure still where they will all lead, but I feel more confident in myself. I feel less beholden to certain power dynamics that have existed in some relationships, and more expectant of a certain level of respect and honor… and in some cases, simply willing to let them go.

What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

Hands down, this has to be the challenges we went through with one of my children. It was long and hard, requiring a lot of patience and emotional energy. I was exhausted and ended with me giving up just about everything I’ve ever done for self-care, and having to start over with slowly building those things back up.

What was an unexpected joy this year?

For this, I think I’ll go with a new friendship. I’d kind of thought that they didn’t really like me that much… Well, that’s not precise. I eventually believed it wasn’t necessarily personal and not something I needed to be torn up about, but at the same time, something I was a little sorry about. Anyway… at some point, I felt moved to act in kindness in a certain way. I didn’t expect that to turn into anything… but just to honor my own values and be compassionate.

That has turned into a new friendship that I’m happy with. It is a new and surprising joy. She’s been really good for me, too… given me a lot to think about in regard to my own relationships and expectations and self-respect. I have too often accepted less than I should. I hope we can be good for each other.


What was an unexpected obstacle?

Perhaps my biggest obstacle this year was myself. I felt like I had to throw myself so intently into being a mom this year… my kids needed me. But the way that I did that was at the expense of my own health. Little by little, everything went out the window. Me time. Healthy eating. Exercise. Being on top of what I WANT to get done and accomplished and to become. I also somehow managed to cut myself off from a lot of my friendships and I end the year feeling a bit lonely, which I guess is my own damn fault.

Pick three words to describe 2016.

Challenging. Exhausting. Baffling.

What were the three best books you read this year?

Well, I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted to… I’m hoping to work on some of that this year. I read most of the way through a couple of Brene Brown’s books, which were all really good. I don’t know why I have such a hard time ACTUALLY finishing those. I read a lot of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project book, which I’d like to give a try. And I read most of the Harry Potter series, so Casey will love me again. I’d like to read more this year – I’d like to give myself more SPACE to read more -- Cleaning off my bookshelves was part of that goal.

With whom were your most valuable relationships?

I feel like my relationships changed a lot this year, and not for the better. I raised my walls. I held everyone at arm’s length. I refused help. So… that wasn’t good.

That said… there were bright moments. I feel like, even though it’s terribly bumpy right now, my relationship with someone I’ve long cared about is getting healthier. My relationship with my family is strong. I’m developing a new friendship with someone I like. That’s a start for the new year, anyway.

What was your biggest personal change from January to December?

Man, I don’t even know. So much of this year was just making it through and surviving. Mostly all the changes were small things that added up to big things. A bit of conversation here prompted one thing. A bit of conversation there prompted another. Perhaps the common theme through most of them was letting go of who I used to be, giving myself permission to not be the same person, and to embrace the worth of who I’ve been becoming, warts and all. In parts, letting go made me feel lonely… and there has been temptation to pretend I wasn’t changing. If I just acted like I felt the same way about everything, pretended I was the same person I’d always been, then no one would notice. Nothing would change. My relationships would stay steady if I just didn’t let on. But that wouldn’t be authentic. I could’ve done all of it better. In some places, I think some of my relationships floundered because what had been our common link had faded… but I could have done more to establish new ones, to forge bonds over new things but old commitments. And I didn’t do that… partly out of busy, partly out of fear and insecurity, probably.




Sunday, January 22, 2017

January Changes

I began 2017 with some new changes – some planned, some I fell into out of necessity. But I wanted them to be small. January is a cold dark month, and small is the only way I can get through it.

So, a few of them…

I started a couple small body-health related goals.
a.     Eating and tracking breakfast
b.    Walking a short (5k) route 3x/week

These are both really important to my body for a number of reasons. 1, they’re small and achievable. I so often set myself up for failure by asking too much, too soon. I am tryng to exceptionally mindful of that.  Which is just breakfast. Which is why a short-for-me route. Which is why just 3 days.

It's not Blue Dots. It’s not a 10k. It’s not even running, unless I feel like it. But it’s more than I was doing. It’s successfully more than I was doing. And that’s something.

I started a morning ritual.
a.     15 minutes-ish of reading and journaling
b.    Writing a To-Do list

These both have served the purpose of grounding my thoughts for the day. The journaling helps to center my emotions, to channel my thoughts’ squirrely nature into a straighter line. It calms me and lets me start the day on a positive foot. It’s like meditation, I suppose, in that it helps me to breathe out the negative that has already crowded in and to keep centered on the good.

In a way, the To-Do list does the same thing. That’s less glamourous, but it helps me to, at the start of the day, make a list of things I would realistically like to get done that day. I don’t really have an expectation that I’ll finish them all, and I’m not upset if I don’t. But it helps me to not feel like I’m always behind, always have too much to do than my day will hold.

I removed Facebook and Twitter from my phone.

This was for my sanity. I’d gotten too involved, too invested… too crazed.  I need some space from it. It’s not gone completely --  if I really need it, I can access it through my web browser – and I could do more at home to control my exposure. But I’m not getting notifications on my phone anymore, outside Messenger, and that has made it a little easier to be less married to it. I am learning to engage with my surroundings again, I suppose.

The last is a personal approach to life and relationships.

In December, I was sharing with a friend about a different friendship where I felt frustration over a power imbalance. How I kept waiting for the other person to be willing to change that. The friend I was speaking to paused in thought and then said, “I’m not sure that’s how it works. I think maybe that’s something you choose to change.”

This, combined with a lesson in our DBT class on positive reinforcement, made me think deeply about how I’ve given my own power/self-respect away by not being willing to stand up for myself. And if I wanted that to change, I needed to stop reinforcing situations where I felt less-than with my acceptance. That if I wanted more, I needed to re-establish the expectation that I could expect more, no longer giving away a free pass.


I’m not sure that’s a good explanation of it… but I feel positive.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Possibility of January



I always imagine January as a big open field covered by a blanket of fresh snow - bright, white, and blinding as far as the eye can see -- unblemished by footprints. It's a new canvas to paint on, a blank journal to fill.

Of course that's not entirely true. A new year brings the old with it. Last year's relationships, experiences, triumphs and mistakes -- they all come, too. Consequences don't have a December 31st expiration date.

Still.

January holds promise simply for its capacity for possibility. Anything can happen in a January. Anything can be begun again.

Perhaps it's not just its possibility - but its hope.
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