The truth is, I have been running. I have been filling my days, hours and minutes with tasks; so many in fact, that I find myself overwhelmed with the simplest undertaking. Often times, taking on so much that I have moments of complete loss of memory. Frustrated, I frantically search my brain for reasons why I got up from my desk or walked into another room, picked up a pen or opened a new tab on my internet browser. These incidences have left me questioning my sanity and my health.
I came across a quote from, the amazing Brené Brown, last week and it has sat with me ever since.
‘We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we say busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.’
Its significance was felt on the surface at first. But, as I read and re-read the words, I felt light come to the surface. It was a realization that has forced me to look at how I have come to this place, where every moment of my day is overflowing with ‘what else can I do to check out’. A realization that has forced me to accept what I have, actually, been doing is avoiding feeling. Most specifically, shame.
Although, there is a certain comfort in discovering the underlying circumstances in which you have fought.. it comes with a stabbing realization that you are now required to do better. Checking out has become my default. Filling my day perfecting ‘busy’, avoiding the emotions that shame can instill. Tricking you into thinking you are not good enough, that you are flawed and deserve the pain it delivers. Shame, I’ve learned, is a beast.
From here? Do my best to stay conscious and be kind to myself when I’m not. I’m (un)learning.
I find myself sitting across a table from a guy, and I realize I’m not afraid. For the first time, for as long as I can remember, I am not afraid of rejection. I am not afraid of saying something that would make him want to bolt. I am not afraid of leaving this table and never hearing from him again. For the first time in my life I am at peace with whatever the outcome may be.
I spent so much of my life trying to impress and seek approval from men. Somewhere I was taught that this is what made me worthy. What in the actual eff? I look back at my decades of self destructive behavior and I am in shock. The hoops I jumped though, the compromising my needs and beliefs, the making myself available, the anxiety and sleepless nights wondering why I was never good enough.
I have been mostly single for the last two years. I say ‘mostly’ because I have attempted permanency a handful of times. I have met a few amazing men and have tried to move towards whatever the kids are calling a ‘relationship’ these days only to find myself confused. With my newfound self acceptance I don’t actually know how I am supposed to feel in the midst of courtship. The old me would bend and morph into whatever I needed to be to ‘get the guy’. The new me is clueless.
The concept of being able to choose if the guys is right for me instead of me needing the guy to choose me is foreign. I don’t actually have to perform a circus act by reading sheet music for Beethoven’s 7th Symphony upside down while playing the piano with my toes and simplifying the square-root of a negative number simultaneously to be worthy? Hmmm.. well, now what?
‘Now what’ is being free to sit across from a guy, a cute guy at that, and have absolutely no attachment to the outcome.
Update: He did contact me again. And again, and again. And, I’m certainly alright with that.
I spent the day yesterday with a couple of girlfriends running a fun 5K obstacle course. While waiting at the starting line, I spotted a a guy in the crowd wearing a t-shirt that said, ‘You Can’t Fake Fit’. At first glance I didn’t think much of it but as my brain processed those words, the nasty voice inside my head began playing the shameful tape it’s been playing for decades. As I stood there 30 lbs overweight I instantly slouched and felt small.
When did we accept that our value is determined by our size?
I’ve spent more years than I’d like to admit telling myself, ‘I’ll be happy when I’m a size so and so’, ‘If only I was this weight or that weight, then I would.. (insert activity here)’. Then there is the, ‘Why can’t I stick to an eating plan/exercise plan?’, ‘I have no will-power, I must be a failure.’ I’ve rerun the same shameful recording over and over in my head for decades. I’ve believed that I was less-than because I was not thin or ‘fit’. I have held myself back based on the fact that I believed I was not capable because of how I looked.
This isn’t the first race such as this that I have participated in. But, this is the race that I finally realized that fit is how you feel. This is the race that I finished just as strong as I started. As I ran through the mud, waded through water holes, and scaled obstacles I realized that for the first time in my life I was grateful for what my body was capable of. Truly grateful. If only for a day, I felt freedom from judgement, if only my own. To me, that is enough.
The thought of launching this site and broadcasting my struggle has me both hopeful and anxious. Hopeful that someone may relate to my experiences and anxious about it not being ‘perfect’.
I’ve had many breakthroughs in recovery. One of them being the source of my perfectionism when it comes to writing. As a child I struggled to read and write. And so, I was pulled out of class, and went to a resource teacher a few times a week for help. In addition, if you didn’t pass the weekly spelling test, you trod up the stairs to the Resource Room to rewrite every word you spelled wrong for what seems like eternity. I am sure I never passed a spelling test in all the years spelling tests were a thing. I can only imagine how many hours I logged in that room trying desperately to remember ‘I before E, except after C’ and all the other inconsistent rules of spelling the English language.
One year, I had a teacher who was especially cruel about my little problem. He made no qualms about reminding us ‘trouble spellers’ about the tests we failed. He would write our names on the board for all to see. Now for a 10 year old, this was an immense sense of shame. I stared at my name, in it’s permanent spot all year. For that I earned the nickname ‘Miss Muffet’. I vowed to never to sit on a tuffet or eat curds and whey for as long as I lived.
I didn’t know then how this experience would shape the rest of my life, but as I look back at my school years I see a history of homework not handed in, required reading never completed and the dread of long answer questions.
Throughout my life I have avoided writing in front of people, and if I do I try and hide what I’ve written casually with my arm. I own about a half a dozen empty journals. And if at all possible, I’ll use a computer instead of pen and paper. All I can say is TGFSC! (That’s ‘Thank Gosh for Spell Check’ if you were wondering)
With that said, growth happens outside your comfort zone and so here goes nothing!
I won’t tell you when exactly it was that I purchased this domain and began working towards getting a few entries up for your enjoyment. Or, maybe I will. After all, this blog is about how I get in my own way and what better than a prime example.
It was sometime in early January when the idea first manifested itself. I was in the shower, where I come up with most of my great ideas, only to forget them before I’ve fully dried off. This one, however, stuck with me. I was quick to jump on choosing a name, purchasing the URL, and designing a logo.. and then, I started doubting myself. The easiest thing to do when faced with discomfort is to avoid it. And so, here we are. It’s June, and I’ve done another amazing job of starting and not following through.
Doubt is a beast all its own.
All my life I have been running from what I thought I was my fear of failure. But in reality, I’ve got failure down to a science. I thrive on it. I create it. I almost crave it. For so long I lived in the excuses I’d make for not finishing ‘this’ or not following through on ‘that’. It happened so naturally I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It’s astonishing when you finally see how you’ve auto-piloted through some of your most pivotal failures.
I’ve spent the last number of years experimenting in personal development. This spring I attended a multi-day conference recommended by a friend of mine. I had no idea what to expect. The speaker was amazing, the vibe was contagious and the take-aways were priceless. The most important thing I learned was, it’s not failure I’ve been afraid of all this time, it’s success. What do I do when I’ve reached my potential? How do I maintain it? What if I get there and then fall? This is what has stood in my way. This is something big.
I’d love to report that this breakthrough has eliminated my self-doubt and self-sabotage, but it’s a process I’m still working on. It’s taken me a few decades to perfect and it will likely take me some time to break up with it and I’m ok with that.