He didn’t want to talk much about it, because he gets tired of so much focus on him and it. So, he asked me, “How are you?” “Concerned,” I answered, not wanting to dodge the seriousness of this time.
“But, how are YOU?” he pressed. OK, I'll play. How AM I?
It’s a great question, because of course how he is affects how I am, AND it’s not the whole of me. It’s not my only answer. At times (and these crises are some of those times), I am more consumed with him and his life than I’d like to be. It can overshadow my life and take up most of my energy. At times. But not all the time. This reminds me of a piece I wrote years ago, “Can You Be OK Even When “Things” Aren’t?”
So, I appreciated his invitation to reflect on myself. To check in… I don’t know. How am I? How’s my body, mind, heart and soul? It reminded me where I end and he begins. I don’t have to morph into his (or anyone else’s) reality. I get to have my own experience of life. In this moment, we’re both ok. That’s all I really know along with knowing I have no idea how long that will last.
Since then, I’ve noticed how quickly my answer to this question changes. Within any given 24 hours, my reality is vastly different from moment to moment. Life moves and shifts and morphs constantly, and it’s up to me whether I keep myself stuck in any given place for longer than I need. Sometimes when things come at us fast and furious, piling up one after the other, it doesn’t feel like a choice. And maybe it isn’t in those times. Maybe then all we can do is get through, somehow, to the other side.
This morning as I write and consider this simple yet complex question of how I am, I’ll say, I’m tired. I didn’t sleep well because I was too busy beating myself up for a good bit of the last 18 hours. My stomach feels queasy. My head aches because my brain has been way to busy mulling over, and over, and over the events I got myself caught up in yesterday. I’m pissed at myself for ignoring (no, steam-rollering over) my intuition and gut as they screamed at me, “This isn’t right. It makes no sense.” I did it anyway.
The “what” in this case has nothing to do with my son. What it is isn’t important - let’s just say it’s one of those things that causes me to feel so many things… all bundled up in a big old ball of shame, embarrassment (I definitely should have known better), and self-flagellation. Mired in the shitty shame spiral.
I’m working to move through it. What’s done is done. I’ve done what I can to clean up the mess and try to prevent any further problems. Turning toward what I did and taking responsibility was definitely step one. It’s still bugging me. I find I need to keep on talking myself through this. Reminding myself. That’s over. You’ve done what you can, and now you just need to wait and see how it plays out. There’s nothing more to do right now. You, as much as anyone else, deserves your kindness and forgiveness. Last night I offered myself a loving kindness blessing for peace, happiness, safety, health, and ease. Then I inhaled “breathe in sleep” and exhaled “breathe out stress…” I guess it worked, at least for awhile - until I woke up again too early and my mind kicked into its incessant spin.
This thing I did robbed me of too much time and energy yesterday. I really don’t want it to continue weighing me down and interfering with things I need to and want to do. I didn’t even do the dishes last night after being on a 100% roll for the past week. When things like that start to slip, I know I’m in too deep to some kind of something that I need to get out of. And I know that I’m the only one who can set me free.
Why is it so hard to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving with ourselves? Why do we latch onto these things that we’ve done wrong, tempted to have them forever define us as “a terrible person” or someone who never gets anything right? Why do I have these struggles? I don’t know if you do or not!
Today I get to choose. Do I keep spinning and swimming in the muck, or do I continue to notice the bad feeling when it rises back up and move forward anyway? I am choosing - to journal as a way to process all of this, to take a bath and try to imagine this ick washing down the drain, to sing some supportive songs, to go for a walk with my husband and talk about other things, to get on Zoom and write with my co-writing friends. I choose time to practice Tai Chi for Recovery with the amazing, Theresa Knorr - it's a great time to accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can! Also, Tai Chi always helps me move emotions and energy and helps me to get grounded! These choices are acts of self-kindness and self-compassion. They let me know that I am going to show up for myself even when I am really not happy with me. I don’t need to pile on punishment. It really doesn’t help in any way.
I choose to reassure my sister, who was deeper in the muck than I was, and encourage her to not let it steal any more of her joy either. We’re human. We make mistakes. It was a big one. But, no one died. It’s fixable. And, at the same time, as I talk it through with her trying to help clean up more of the mess, I'm shaking. The shock is still living inside my body. We've beeen shaken by this scam... and it's hard to trust anyone or anything right now. It feels like danger is lurking around every corner.
What I’ve learned from all of this:
#1 Do NOT override that inner knowing for anyone’s outside voice, no matter how much they plead. Do not.
#2 Slow things down and think it through before I act. Talk it through with someone I trust if I’m not sure.
#3 Do not get caught up in the seeming urgency of anything. Unless there’s blood, fire, or someone is turning blue, there are few things that require immediate action - especially if they don’t make sense.
#4 Do not act in a state of confusion. Pause. Walk away. Breathe (we need that oxygen for intelligent thinking!). Regroup. Reground. Come back and choose from a grounded place. Will I still make mistakes or get things wrong? Of course! But, probably not in things like this.
#5 When I F up, face it, deal with it, forgive myself (or at least consider forgiving myself), and move on. Don’t let it continue to burden me unnecessarily for longer than needed.
#6 Be kind to myself in all of this. What would I say to someone I love who’s in my shoes right now? Offer that same grace, gentleness, and compassion to me. Remember my messy humanness, my predictable imperfection.
#7 Let myself move through it, get over it. It’s just one (very problematic and annoying) moment in the grand scheme of this life. Look at all I’ve gotten through in the past. I can get through this too. In many ways, this is nothing! It will be ok. Somehow it will be ok.
#8 Remember how quickly things change. Internally and externally. This too will pass. It’s passing even now, if I let it.
#9 Call in Enchantment… ask her what more she has to offer me right now. Here’s what she had to say, “Oh, baby girl, you can bring in gentleness, kindness, and care - always. When you fall into beating yourself up, stop. Remember that. Don’t let it spiral into 1500 things you’ve done wrong or let it make you a globally terrible person. Just own the mistake, name the shame, regret, and anger you feel. Let it move through you. You don’t have to continue to carry it or let it darken one more moment. Let it go. Move on. I love you.
So, I ask you… How are YOU? How do you deal with these moments in your life? Or am I the only one who knows what I’m talking about? If so, thanks for indulging me! If not, I would love to hear how you get yourself through these tough times.