Over time, you know what happens? Time. It’s a sneaky thing really, in one sense it doesn’t exist, in other ways it’s all that exists.
I’ve noticed that in the relationships closest to us, we sometimes use time as a means to an end. The time is going to go by anyways, or – it’s as if no time went by at all and we can ‘pick up where we left off.’
In many ways, time can hold us hostage like a runaway train. Miraculously waiting for a destination, wait, where are we going again?
Over the past month or so, I’ve been trying to figure out why I just didn’t feel ‘right’, something was off again – what the heck is it? Why can’t I just flow with things, see the beautiful blessings all around me. Instead, overtime fixating on little things that bother me. The look on his face, the lack of patience, the story I am telling myself – we are on different planets.
In all honesty, it’s easy to blame the pandemic – to blame not being able to travel, to blame everything going on – but guess what? The pandemic removed a lot of distractions, created some new ones and made us all take a deeper look at how we are spending, this precious commodity called time.
Sound familiar? It can be any one, spouse, parent, child, friend – you name it. When we are looking for something to be wrong, we will find it.
When it starts to feel like the whole round peg, square hole scenario – there is something you’ve been ignoring.
As a mom of two, wife, full-time VP of Marketing and part time blogger with full time aspirations of changing the world – it hit me. Where did I go? Are my needs being met? Wait a minute here, am I walking on egg shells because of something in particular or have I gone so long that I’ve forgotten where the grudge even started? Do I even have a grudge? What the heck is a grudge anyways?
Relationships are complicated, and if you have read any of my other posts – it’s safe to say that I believe the most complicated relationship we can have sometimes (most of the time) is with ourselves.
I’ve been married a little over two years, together for four – to a steadfast, wonderful man. It will come as no surprise that I knew I needed someone that would be able to accept me for all I am. Wearing emotions on my sleeve, strong-willed, most of the time self-critical and all of the time just trying to do the right thing.
I’m not going to dredge through the old shit that created the stories that, I have over time, accepted and rejected about myself – but I will tell you this.
We are not our stories. We have the free will and fortitude at any time to change, in fact – it’s really all we are ever doing in our bodies – is changing. So why the heck is it so hard to change our ways? It’s not, but what I have learned is that it’s not overnight.
For me, pockets of courage, change and self-awareness happen in little windows of opportunity. The glimpses are quite large if we stop and pay attention.
Holidays have always brought a mixed bag of emotions for me. Visions of sugar plums dance in my head – strong loving emotions connected to the experiences I PLAN to have. Often times creating a disconnect between reality and expectation. Wait a minute here who’s expectations are these?
Well, I will tell you that she is about 11 years old, going on 16, and is deeply longing for love and safety. Safety in a family all together, safety in everyone around her not drinking themselves to the point of complete destruction, looking for safety after one full day of having all of the presents she could ever imagine only to go without for the majority of the year – watching as the cart of groceries for the week got declined at the register.
I remember feeling so sad, except – I wasn’t sure who I was sad for? I am sad for myself? For my mom? For my siblings? For not having my comfort blanket of food to take home after this trip to the store? I don't know, so I will just store that - deep down, for later.
I don’t normally go this deep in sharing my stuff – but my words will always be at the very least – true and authentic, you can count on that. Processing and sharing my experiences, helps me heal, grow and hopefully will inspire someone out there to realize that the shit you are going through? You are not alone in that.
Fast forward through a lot of bad decisions, good decisions and a ton of HARD WORK later – and I’m here. Two children that I adore, who test my will, and remind what it’s really like to be alive, a husband who is unwaveringly the absolute best man I’ve ever known, a dog who fits in so perfectly with our family – never thinking I’d ever have the patience or love to own a dog again after losing about 10 family pets growing up to yards that weren’t properly fenced.
FEAR. God almighty, can it be playing in the background even when we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ve made it – that we are OK that everything around us is as it should be. And then it happens, sabotage. It’s almost like a relapse in a sense. Things are going well, and then they aren’t.
It starts with little things, things you don’t even realize are bothering you – in fact, you may have even written them off as ‘petty’ and talk yourself out of bringing them up. It’s not really that big of deal, things are stressful – if I bring up these things, I will only add to the problem. I am safe, I am safe, I am safe.
Well, let me tell you – in weighing those options, the opportunity cost is huge. Because convincing ourselves that something isn’t a big deal only makes it a bigger deal over time than it ever was. And, with that comes the intense layering of internal pressure. Who are you trying to convince? Can’t put your finger on it but you are living out of alignment. Alignment is a tricky word – it’s sort of like time, it sneaks by and then bam – you look at your child and think where did the time go?? The same way you wake up and realize you are out of whack.
Where did I let the energy seep away to? Ah, denial. Here comes the camel, and the straw that’s about to break his poor back.
In this particular case, my recent experience with this – was profound. And when I say I aired it out, I truly went for it. But here’s how it went differently, and here’s where I recognize the growth in myself as a person.
Pick an issue, any issue that you have with someone. Talk yourself out of it ‘being a big deal’ for days, months – years even. Something WILL hit, and the energy that you’ve stored over that period of time, will follow.
Pure, unadulterated righteousness. When I was younger, I really didn’t care how it got out – as long as it did.
But when that familiar feeling came up this time around, I sat with it – and knew, here we go – it’s time. Time to show all the damn cards. The ‘little stuff’ the ‘big stuff’ all the stuff.
The difference? This isn’t just about me anymore. I don’t have to ‘survive’ anymore, but I sure as heck want to live. Living for me now, has changed. I’ve rebuilt a strong foundation under myself and even let a few people really close to me, help me rebuild it.
I also realized that I could be myself, say what I needed to say, and would only be more loved for it. Not rejected.
Asking for help sometimes isn’t literal. It sometimes means telling someone that you don’t feel emotionally heard, that your needs aren’t being met – and doing so in a way that takes full responsibility for how the relationship got to that point and choosing with all you have, to be a part of the solution versus running away before you ‘get hurt’.
It means honoring space and time for the discussion, taking a day off if needed to be together – giving each other the undivided attention you both deserve. It’s recognizing that love is a choice – and, that it’s a two way street.
In this, I realized that what I had built up in my head – was shrapnel from stories that no longer serve me – but feel familiar. The ‘I’m not safe’, the ‘I won’t let my family go without’, the ‘I refuse to settle for something that doesn’t feel good’, the ‘my needs have to be met’ ultimately creating a framework of ultra-independence that sucked all of the possible oxygen out of a deeper connection.
In the middle of discussing it all – I learned a lot about myself. I came to realizations about who I am and who I am not. Showing my cards first, and even recognizing that the fantasy I attach to creating ‘magic’ often times leaves me missing the real moments, of simply being together, happy and healthy – allowing myself to be present for my kids and family without constantly feeling pulled.
I don’t have to teach my daughter that safety is something that comes in waves. Because, it’s not. It doesn’t always feel that way – things happen. Powerful, hard things can happen. And, they will. Rebuilding your ability to trust the people around you to be a part of the safety equation, takes first being able to forgive and trust yourself. Only then will you be able to open up enough space in yourself to let someone else in.
Don’t close off your heart, it’s the only REAL thing that exists. Love will always grow where the conditions are right. Strike the right balance between your mind (boundaries, stories) and heart (unconditional love) to honor who you are, and what you need. Anyone who is meant to be, will either teach you something about yourself as you move on, or make you realize what was right in front of you the entire time – the ability to choose love.
Choose the right conditions, do the hard work you’ve been avoiding, choose love - and may it comfort you and grow into new possibilities every day.