There is nothing like taking 43 years to figure this out.
But I will be honest – it wasn’t until just this month – and just a few days ago, in fact, that I finally convinced myself to stop worrying so much about whether who I am, how I act, what I prefer, and how I live is the “right” way to be.
Can you relate?
For 43 years, I have logged daily high quality time lecturing myself about how I need to do more of this, less of that, adjust my preferences or habits “or else”…..and yet after all those years of well-meaning and well-composed self-lectures, here I am.
I am still me. I am still the same me. I still act the way I act and think the way I think. I still have certain preferences and other aversions. I still live the way I live, and no amount of lecturing or motivational speeches or dire predictions can sway me from it.
Then it finally occurred to me – mid-way through this second month of my 43rd year – that maybe there is a reason for it.
I live in a neighborhood with lots of growing pains.
Because of this, I now know it takes two full days (if they start early on the morning of the 1st day) to tear a whole house down and cart it away.
Since they are hard at work putting up six new houses on my street alone, I will soon find out approximately how long it takes to build a new house where the old house used to be.
But what I already know is that it makes quite a racket while they are doing it!
There are the ground smoothers. And the concrete pourers. And the wood haulers. And the paint sprayers. And of course the loud (blaring) tunes from somebody’s boom box (apparently this is a required part of every “new home building” process).
While it is happening it is irritating, messy, lengthy, erratic, and seemingly endless.
But when the process finally does conclude, there is a beautiful shiny new HOME where a flimsy condemned shack used to stand.
Life is like this (or at least I think it is – usually I’m too busy complaining during the “growing pains” phases to really bookmark the actual specifics).
We endure the growing pains – somehow – and then, one day and just when we least expect it, voila!
Lovely, new, shining, and oh-so-proud – we behold ourselves.
Just like that, we have triumphed over even the worst of our own growing pains, and boy-oh-boy is it ever worth it!
Today’s Takeaway: What is your typical reaction during “growing pains” periods of your life? Do you complain (like I often do)? Do you make a conscious effort to step back and look at the bigger picture to see a transformation in process? Some other way? What helps you most to endure during the “tearing down” and then the “building process”?
p.s. This post is from January’s “Good News for Eating Disorders Recovery” ezine. To read the full edition click HERE
Home construction image available from Shutterstock.
I turned 43 this month.
Every year right around this time I do an “annual yearly review.” I think through what I’ve learned, what I haven’t learned, where I’ve made progress, where I haven’t yet made progress – all that good stuff.
In this year’s process, it occurred me that I have changed my mind a tremendous number of times in the last 43 years.
For instance, at first I was sure I didn’t have an eating disorder.
Then I was sure I wasn’t sick enough to do anything about the eating disorder I knew I had.
Then I decided I really wanted to do something about my eating disorder but was positive I couldn’t recover.
Then I changed my mind again and determined I would recover or die trying (because anything was better than waking up to my own self-hatred for even one. more. day).
Then one day I woke up and realized I was really DOING IT – RECOVERING – and I set my mind to KEEP GOING….
It has been nearly 43 years now, and in my ongoing debate with myself, I still have not decided whether a) life keeps handing me unfairly difficult challenges or b) I am just too high strung.
This is probably why I find myself writing about anxiety a lot.
But looking back over my almost 43 years to date, I can also clearly see I have successfully survived my own anxiety thus far.
I am still here, still improving myself, still learning about what is possible and what I’m made of (even if sometimes I would rather not know).
All of those challenges where I have said, “Oh no – anything but that! I’ll never survive/succeed at that one!” and yet here I am. I’ve survived them all.
It is easy to let the voices get to you.
Sometimes the voices come from others. “You will probably always struggle.” “We’ve never seen a case this severe before.” “Why can’t you just ‘get over it’?”
Sometimes the voices come from within. “You are such a loser.” “There is a reason you are lonely.” “Everyone feels sorry for you.”
To the outer voices, you can say, “You don’t know me – you don’t know what I am capable of. You have no idea what I have already overcome and how strong I really am. I will show you – just wait and see.”
To the inner voices you can simply say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, SHUT UP.”
You are NOT a victim.
Not unless you insist on it.
You have the right to rest.
Yes, you do.
The right to rest is as inalienable as the right to breathe.
Animals in the wild spend every second of time they are not feeding, breeding or raising young resting. Why?
Because they need it. Because they are tired. Because resting just makes sense.
For people too, we need rest. We need rest for our bodies, our brains, our hearts and our spirits.
We need rest to allow new ideas and insights to bubble to the surface and illumine our lives.
We need rest to help us feel gratitude and appreciation for ourselves, our loved ones, our challenges and our opportunities.
We need rest because resting is one of the pure pleasures of being alive – as a wise mentor once told me, “If you can’t find some way to add enjoyment to your day then why get up?”
There was a time – there are still times – when I read or hear or think this statement and my reaction is less than, um, proud.
The truth is, I spent many many years being ohhhhhh soooooo hard on myself.
I was like my own in-house drill sergeant, barking out orders in the unkindest tone possible, dispensing criticism as if I had an unlimited supply (back then I did)….all of which meant that being me in my world was a very unfriendly place to live.
But I’ve been working hard to change that.
For instance, the other day I bumped into someone I don’t really like very much. My mind got busy right away reminding me why I don’t like this person.
But then later, thinking back, I noticed how unhappy it made me to think of this person in a negative light. So I started working on this – trying to find a perspective that felt better.
That was when it hit me – when I bother to look for it, I can easily find many things to admire about this person.
Oh boy. Here we go.
I can hear you now. “You have GOT to be kidding…..really? REALLY?!? The “love your body” speech? What happened – did you just totally run out of topic ideas for this month?”
But then again, you know (or at least I hope you know) I never write about anything here that I haven’t personally experienced. Which must mean….at long last…..
Not quite yet. I’m not quite there yet. So technically this month’s title probably should have read “Just in – today’s evidence seems to forecast that ‘body love’ is a very high – nearly surefire – probability some day in the not-too-distant future.”
But of course that title would be way too long.
So instead, allow me to explain.
The last few months have been….rough.
So rough, in fact, that sometimes I can’t help but picture the various aspects of my life – health, romance, career, finances – all balled up together in a giggling little group, whispering “hey, what do you think she would do if we all did THIS next!”
Not so long ago a friend and I were talking about one aspect that has been especially rocky, and she said to me, “You know, in six months we’ll probably be laughing about all this.” I will admit I loved the idea of “laughing about all this.” And as the situation slowly resolves, we have shared a cackle or two, but not the great howling belly laughs that make even the most horrid of circumstances somehow bearable.
This post is from this month’s edition of “Good News for Eating Disorders Recovery.” I hope you enjoy it!
You Are Your Own Reward
The first time this phrase came to my mind I can still remember thinking, “Oh good god.”
I mean – seriously? Do ‘real’ people (aka people like me) actually say things like this?
As it turns out, they do. They even say things like this and mean them.
Not so long ago I went through a period where life really, really, REALLY started to feel like a thankless job.
Everywhere I turned there were endings. Conflict. Misunderstandings. Heartache.
I wanted off. Out. I wanted to find the person who had signed me up for this – this thing – this life – without my permission and, well, do whatever came naturally.
I caught myself looking around for ‘comforts’ – trying to ease my own pain, limit my own stress, locate and annex tiny moments of joy so my own days no longer felt so endless, or bleak.
It took me awhile to realize that the reward I was seeking was the one I already had.
There I was, going through it, getting through it, waking up each day and going head to head with the unknown yet again, absolutely refusing to see any other outcome other than a positive one (even and especially if I couldn’t fathom what that could possibly be yet).
It wasn’t a fun period of time. I’m glad it’s over. And I don’t want it to come back.
But out of it I got that treasure of treasures – the active, undeniable, day to day experience of me showing up for me, as me, in my own life.
In the same way, it may be so easy for you to miss the sight of yourself, making yourself proud, showing up for yourself again and again even when you would rather do anything but.
It is very easy for you to miss seeing this. But I see it so clearly.
My wish for you this month is that you will at last realize that YOU – as you – for you – …