I don't know if you've noticed or cared much but lately I've been steering clear of the more personal posts and sticking to posts about projects and activities ever since this summer when I admitted to feeling so badly. Part of the reason for that is because after really spilling my guts that last time, I felt kind of embarrassed and weird about it...like I'd crossed some sort of line and gone into the TMI category. I knew from talking to a couple of people about it that it didn't really come across the way I'd been afraid it had but I still felt the need to hold back a bit in that department, for a bit anyway. The other reason is because I've been seeing a therapist and, holy crap, it's been SO AWESOME and it sort of relieves that urge to write out my thoughts in this way and instead, to just wait and discuss stuff during our appointments. I've become so enamored with the whole situation, that I've suddenly become a "My therapist says..." and "I was JUST talking about this with my therapist the other day!" person. If you are part of my every day life, I have to apologize because I'm sure it's a little annoying but I just can't help it.
Anyway, there's so much work to be done but most of it revolves around 1) trying to find balance and 2) being as generous with myself as I am with other people. It sounds so simple and I bet most of you could say that you need to work on those things yourselves, right? How is it that we ALL have these struggles with these things and we recognize them in each other and work hard for EACH OTHER to alleviate the pain and exhaustion that results and can't seem to do the same favor for ourselves? I think we probably all have our own reasons, but among them I think a common one has to be that we don't know HOW to do it for ourselves so we hope that in helping other people through their tougher moments, it'll somehow take the burden off our own shoulders automatically. Well, if you can relate, let me tell you that the biggest thing I've come to realize over the past couple of months is that no matter how much you give to other people, it's not enough to ignore the stuff you're sweeping under the rug in your own little bubble. In fact, it can make it much much worse.
A few weeks ago, during my therapy appointment, we were exploring a new approach that involved me looking over a list of thoughts a person could possibly have about themselves. There was a "negative"column and a "positive" column and my therapist first asked me how many from the negative column I could relate to and I was shocked and saddened to see that almost all of them were things I say to myself, about myself on a regular basis. It shocked me because, and I don't know if this will make sense but, logically I don't think these things about myself. When I'm thinking theoretically or trying to see myself as others do, I DO see a good, smart, kind and interesting person but if I'm looking from the inside out it's another story. I don't know why, and I have been aware of it for a long time but just haven't found a way to stop thinking and feeling this way. Over the past few years, I've settled on trying to mask or push away those feelings with as much generosity towards other people as I can muster. I've figured that if I can't fix myself, I can at least be a reliable/dependable/generous/thoughtful friend/wife/mother/sister/neighbor/employee/daughter/auntie/complete stranger so it can't be all that bad. While I have no desire to do away with those particular urges when it comes to other people, I have realized that I need to learn to pace myself and recognize when I need to do a favor for me and only me. What ended up happening over and over was that I'd take stuff on and take stuff on and take stuff on and then suddenly find myself completely exhausted and overwhelmed and was crashing and burning seemingly out of the blue. For me, crashing and burning involved resenting other people and hating myself for it...yeah, not a good habit at all.
After we talked about the negative column she asked me to look at the positive column and find the thoughts that I WISH I had regularly. Not surprisingly I, really wished I could say them all regularly but the one that stuck out the most was: "I'M OK THE WAY I AM". I was almost startled by it's simplicity and felt more peaceful just saying it out loud. Peaceful in the hope that it really is the thing I wish the most for myself and it's not that complicated. Peaceful in that it's so much less pressure than trying to believe "I'm AWESOME the way I am", which is what I've always thought I was supposed to be believing. I mean, none of us is awesome all of the time...we aren't perfect, we make mistakes, we react childishly, we don't know everything there is to know about this world...and that's just fine. Trying to buy into the thought that we are "AWESOME" all of the time is a recipe for disappointment if you ask me. Since reading that sentence out loud in that office, I've felt more relaxed and more confident in my decisions on a daily basis because I no longer feel like I need to be the absolute best I can be in each moment. I just have to make a decision that feels right and move on with my day. I'm OK even when I'm not at my best, I'm OK when I'm shining brightly and everywhere in between.
Like I said, there's a lot of work to be done but I'm well on my way.