I picked up a book that I had started reading a few months ago and put down and this is the quote that jumped out at me:
“So whatever you do, just do it, without expecting anyone’s help. Don’t spoil your effort by seeking for shelter. Protect your-self and grow upright to the sky; that is all.” Shunryu Suzuki- Not always so
It was like slap in the face…the good kind. After I got over the hurt from two years ago, I wanted to escape and after that I wanted someone to fill the hole in my heart. I have been on the spiritual path and through enough therapy to know that this is my work to do but the illusion that another person could help and heal that emptiness is so seductive.
I was certain that I was leaving this town as soon as I could. That this place was nothing more than a lay over to heal my wounds and then move on to the promised land…wherever that might be. But it didn’t happen that way, not because there were not opportunities or because I didn’t try (tip to Portland) but my heart would not buy it.
Then I embarked on the dating distraction. This was highly entertaining but there came a moment when I realized that I was not willing to risk anything so I stopped pretending. And then I met someone. Of course being me it had to be the most complicated and impossible person to be with. I came to realize slowing that was a large part of the attraction. Don’t get me wrong he had lots of other wonderful qualities but the nature of the whole situation suited my melancholy nature far too well. And in the end it proved to be the impossible situation I was seeking. Minus two points for walking into fire knowingly.
I know your thinking (she’s at it again rambling about god knows what again) but when I read that quote this morning and it was like something broke loose inside me. All this time I have wanted to survive, over come, forget, start over but I never loved myself enough to protect myself. I put up walls and shut people out but that was only to avoid pain it was not to protect myself.
When I think about how I would begin to do that it seems hard. I am in danger from no one but myself and in many ways it is harder to counter than someone hitting me. My boss complimented me the other day and I shifted the credit to my team and she said “Amanda, take a little credit for your work.” It is so engrained to see myself as pass-able at best that I’m not sure where to begin pause the voices in my head, to protect myself from me.
But…I am going to try. Try to love my life because its mine, just the way it is. This holiday season was particularly hard, mostly because I didn’t make the effort to lie for other people’s comfort. When they asked if I was alone I said yes. When they asked if I was seeing my family I said no. When they asked if I was okay/ happy I mostly told the truth and said I didn’t know. If I had lied they would have gone on their blissful holiday way for the most part. But by telling the truth it gave me the opportunity to look at my feelings and choices. It hurt but it was honest.
As I go forward into this new year, I hope to be kinder and more forgiving to myself. I think it is a lesson I will be learning my whole life: how to love me.
I have realized that over the past 6 months or so I have done a lot of surviving and not a lot of living. I wish that I could say that it was necessary but I’m awake enough to realize that a good bit of it is hiding. So the question is what do I do about it?
I know that I could continue to live this life and get by but that is not what I want. I miss the passion in my life about work and creativity. I miss being bold and going places and doing things because I want to with or with out people.
I have used the excuse too long that I don’t know anything about this town or the surrounding area. All it takes to remedy that is gas and the GPS. I have come to realize that I am afraid to feel. Being an emotional person most of my life this feels odd but it is the only explanation for many of the things I have let happen.
I don’t “make” anything right now. I love photography and haven’t taken picture in month, it has been even longer since I picked up a pencil or a paint brush. I have written but it’s so easy to escape feelings in the esoteric meanings of words. It is not so easy to evade color, beauty or the memories linked to smell. Once I came to this realization I was shocked that I have spent months choosing not to feel.
That is not to say that I haven’t ranted or cried but I feel something deeper lurking just beyond the emotions I know I cn control. It makes me stop conversations and stay out of my study. I know that I need to address it and love myself through it but I seem to chicken out every time I feel it coming to the surface. I don’t want to be one of those people who hides in other words and yet here I am, reading books and watching tv instead of engaging myself.
So how do I break the pattern? How do I reach out to myself in a way that feels safe? By making a list.
Things to do this weekend and next week:
- Cook all of my own food- on some very base level this is taking care of me.
- TV no more that 1 hr per day- I need to play in the real word
- Wake up every day @ 7am and use that hour doing something that is meaningful to me (blogging, praying, exercising)
- Go outside!!! Even just a walk down the st.
- Find a place in town that I want to go to and go there.
- Make a list of all my unfinished art projects and work on one.
- Take my camera anywhere and use it.
Some of you may wonder “what is the point in a list if you don’t do those things?” Well for me getting my thoughts together in some form and out of my head always helps. Also having a record so when I find myself in those unhappy prone to numbness moments there is a plan.
I want to thank those of you who have been encouraging me to be less of a victim and more of a survivor. Thank you for you words directly and through your writing. I know that I will get my head out of the sand and rediscover what makes my life amazing.
“That I Would Be Good”
that I would be good even if I did nothing
that I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
that I would be good if I got and stayed sick
that I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
that I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
that I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
that I would be great if I was no longer queen
that I would be grand if I was not all knowing
that I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy
that I would be good even if I lost sanity
that I would be good
whether with or without you
Two days ago I work up with a achie ear. I am not prone to issues with my ears so I thought of all the “other” things it could be. But by the end of the day we were swinging by the drug store on the way home from work to pick up something which helped me to sleep but it came back the next day.
So Yesterday I went to the Dr after work and he said I dont’ have an ear infection, I have lock-jaw (TMJ) and I’m clenching my teeth too hard at night. I told him that my teeth also hurt and that I was going to the dentist soon.
Why- you ask- am telling you about my teeth? It made me think about my approach to sickness in general. In this case I went outside the pattern and went to the Dr before I was in lots of pain and stopped at moderate pain. I have often thought about how I handle or not, begin sick.
When I was a child I don’t ever remember going to the Dr. I did go to the ER once but then I didn’t go to the dentist either. So I have a small life time of suck it up and deal . Which is not the best option.I have spent most of my life say things like “I’m not sick I just have allergies” this sis my mother coming straight out of my mouth. She does have lots of allergies but I don’t so very small cold, irritated throat gets lumped into the “no so serious stop whining about it” pile. And the funny thing is, I’m not a whiner any way. I hate going on about my own crap because a- I’ve heard it before and b- I’m sure no on else wants to hear about it either. I never would have had surgery on my knee if my husband had not looked at me hobbling around and said “that’s not right.”
In the broader scheme of my life I think this lack of care for my basic needs fed into a lot of other issues that I gathered along the way. I wonder why some of us end up feeling as if caring for our selves is wrong or should be put off? I get the obvious fear of bills but the more logical part of me wonders is it better to put it off and end up in the ER instead of a 50$ DR’s visit? How much is our health and well-being really worth?
I was encouraged though that I did go to the Dr sooner and I did it because I wanted to be good to me. So there’s a little growth going on. Over the years I have worked hard to learn what it means to love me out side of anything else. So here’ s to me learning to be kind because it’s the right thing to do not just a medical necessity.
When I think back about all the resolutions I have made over the years it is almost laughable to recall simple selfish ones like: weight loss, pet projects, home improvements and the like. When I think about the year to come those things don’t seem so important or dire. Instead my thoughts turn to how I want to “feel” in the coming year or who I want to “be.” These things seem to rank so much higher on the important list than meeting some societal self-imposed ideal of myself.
So who do I want to be? And how do I want to feel? Good questions, not so easy answers. I want to be the person who loves what they do, is a blessing to others and knows that each day they are doing something that makes the world a little better. I want to be the kind of person who truly loves them-self, not just on the good days but every day. I want to be the kind of person who believes in their dreams enough that they are not easily discouraged. I want to be the kind of person who believes they deserve to be loved just the way they are.
I want to feel healthier: in my mind, body and spirit. I want to trust myself and let that confidence radiate through all I do. I want to let go of the fear that keeps me from expressing how much I love the people in my life. I want such a deep connection with my faith that it is not shaken when my life is. I want to pursue those things that make me feel alive and vibrant. I want to be okay with me just the way I am and surround myself with people who affirm this in my life.
And all this means….What? I want less fear and more love. The older I get these are the two gifts I ask of myself and others. They have become a guiding light when I think about why I am choosing to do something or am letting something happen in my life. Even if I cannot control the situations in my life, I can control how I choose to react to things, if I stay in hurtful situations and if I demand respect for myself. I have not totally learned these lessons but I know that with each year that passes I get stronger and I love myself more.
So this is my hope foe 2011:
I see myself at peace: with my relationships, my career and my understanding of God and my relationship to Him.
I see myself open to: creativity, change, love and my own power and magnificence.
I see myself as the child of light that I was created to be.
Namaste, so be it.
Normally I look something like this. I’m a very plain Jane on the feminine side. Its all about comfort with me. Old jeans, soft cotton t-shirt and sneakers or boots. But on days like today when my insecurity is showing I rely on that time old tradition of gussying up.
I must begin by saying that I didn’t really wear make up until I was in high school and that was only stage make up for plays. To this day I still do not wear it on a weekly basis. I guess I always felt that my face is my face, take it or leave it.
But I find when stress is involved or its important to make a “good” impression out comes the unloved bag of color. Over the years I have developed skills that suit me and learned what colors I should and should not wear (orange and purple NO!).
I learned most of these skills the first year I lived in Texas. The women there are dressed to the nines all the time, big hair, big color. I tried my best for about a year. I wore make up every day to work (HS teacher), I dressed all cute and business like. The effort it took to maintain it is what nipped it in the end. I just don’t care enough to stand in front of the mirror for an hour to “look” a certain way. So my concession for days like this is everything that I do takes a total of 30 min.
In the end I come out looking something like this (left). I like to error on the side of understated and “fresh” looking. I am not a bold color person and my attempts at make up reflect that. But I must say for all my fussing, I do feel more confident when I put my face on. Maybe it is some deep pre-conditioning that I am supposed to “want” to be attractive or that it is my “job” as a woman to achieve a certain level of up keep.
All I know is that when I am facing an important meeting out comes the colors and a favorite out fit. Today that would be a comfy sweater stripped in shades of blue, dark jeans and black cowboy boots. I definitely feel like me in these cloths. Perhaps that helps balance the mask that is my face.
How do you feel about make up. dressing up and the lack or presence of expectations on how you should or should not dress?
What do you do when the world around you is happy and bright, people are excited and jolly and you are…not. This is the place I find myself in. I thought putting up the tree would help but its shocking lack of packages makes it seem all the more bare. I tried playing Christmas music but it either got on my nerves or made me sad, so I turned it off. I broke down and actually baked a cake. For me this is the last resort when I comes to holiday cheer. I usually conjure up images of my sister and mom baking cookies and it makes me happy but this time it all went lop-sided. Instead of making me happy I got really sad and wanted to eat half the cake (which is why I don’t bake very much).
So what do you do with the holiday season when all your cheer has run in the other direction. I think it started with me letting go of the picture in my head of how my Christmas “should” be. In stead of being at home, I’m going to be with my best friend and her adorable husband. I know that I will find laughter, good food and probably a few tears.
Second I had to find s ways to help myself instead of sitting a round the house bemoaning the fact that I don’t care about finding presents for people or mailing them on time. So this morning I took myself to the gym, did a yoga class, had a smoothie and went to a second yoga class. By no means am I implying that yoga will solve your seasonal or life sucks right now depression but doing something you love will. Even if you don’t feel like it GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!
Thirdly I remind myself that though I love Christmas it is just another day when plied against the rest. It is no more sad or depressing that it is not going my way than on any other day if I choose to keep it in perspective.
Why might you ask am I writing all this? this year has taught me to be kinder to those who won’t be with their families, who are dealing with loss or depression, people who are reminded moment by moment that a roof over their children’s heads is the only gift they can provide. I wanted to let these people know that I understand and you don’t have to let it destroy you. I’m not saying that it is not hard, or heart breaking, just that you are a valuable person and being here is important, loving yourself might just be the greatest gift you ever gave yourself or your family. All things change and pass in time, your life is so much greater than this moment, take courage in this, it will not go on forever. But you deserve to go on past and though this and you can.