On Not Fixing What’s Broken.

January 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Posted in Choosing Happiness., Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy), Mindful. | 8 Comments

When my cousin died and I went back to school, I spent most of that next semester in bed.

I cried a lot. I smoked cigarettes, I leaned on friends, I ate too much and drank too much and didn’t go to class.

I did badly enough in two of my classes that I didn’t bother going to the finals – because even if I had gotten an A on the final by some feat of strength, I STILL wouldn’t have passed the class.

My low point was when I got that report card in the mail over winter break. That 1.73? Shamed me.

And I decided that since Amy couldn’t live, I was going to live for her, and make up for my gaping weaknesses.

Since then, whenever something’s pulled the rug from under me, be it an ended engagement 13 years ago, or unemployment, or infertility, or Death – I’ve tried to Make Up for Things. Be a different person, work on getting better.

Like it’s MY fault, somehow, that my cousin died. That my aunt died. That we’re infertile. That I lost my job. That I broke someone’s heart.

I’m a Doer. A fixer. I crave ACTION whenever I feel uncomfortable.

I’ve done it with my friends, when they’re going through tough times. I want to FIX it. And maybe I can’t. But I can be there, all the time, ready for them to talk about it. I can show up at their house with a bottle of wine.

I do it with my husband, too. He’s in a bad place? I tell him to go for a hike. Or take a mental health day. Or drink more water, or get more sleep – whatever. It’ll HELP, I think. Just go DO something.

I’ve been so used to action, to being actively WORKING on things, that I don’t know how to sit with my broken pieces.

I know I keep saying it, but I feel like I have to acknowledge it here again: October’s miscarriage shattered me.

And my first reaction was to go DO something. Which, you know, I did. I got a running coach. I ran 106 miles in December, my largest monthly mileage in all 2012. I joined myfitnesspal, changed my lifestyle, and lost weight.

But I can’t really DO anything else. So I decided, you know, I need to sit with the pain. Because the only way through pain is to sit with it and really DEAL with it, right?

Except, left to its own devices, my mind has turned last fall into this whole STORY of pain – how I’m a big fuckup, my uterus is completely jacked, and how could I have possibly not figured it out by now? Oh, and by the way, Serenity, you’re fucking up as a wife, mom, runner, AND worker, too.

In a way, it’s DOING something, just in the negative. I can’t fix myself, so instead I just allow my mind to run rampant over my self-esteem.

Which is what I posted about yesterday.

It’s funny: yesterday’s post wasn’t SUPPOSED to be my internal monologue. I felt myself slipping, sliding backwards into the black funk, and the title “No Good” was supposed to be about how I still had no blogging mojo and the self-kindness was doing me no good, because I was still miserable.

And then all of THAT came out, and I started to realize, wait a second, I have this voice that’s been convincing me all these years that I am No Good. And holy shit, it has a hold on me that’s deep and wide. I’ve been feeding it all these years.

I think the fix, if there is one, is doing what I’m doing. NOTICING, first, when my thoughts take a bad turn (which they inevitably do). Realizing that my mind has nothing to do, so it’s making something bigger than it is.

Beyond that, I don’t really know what to do. Thing is? It’s not something I can just fix by hiring a running coach or logging my calories.

But I feel like this is Important Work I’m doing right now. Not fixing what’s broken; but not allowing my mind to create stories about myself that aren’t truth.

And maybe, MAYBE, this is the start of figuring my way out of this place I’m in.



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  1. I can COMPLETELY relate to this post. I am the exact same kind of person and I am currently driving myself completely insane thinking about all of the ways I could be better and that maybe I would feel better about everything if I just did this and that. It really takes you out of living in the now because you’re always thinking about the future. I have been missing out lately and I’m really trying to snap out of this funk. I totally hear you and get you and it can be exhausting. Why do we do this to ourselves?
    Best of luck to you. I’m right here with you!

  2. I think you may like this book: When Things Fall Apart: http://www.amazon.com/When-Things-Fall-Apart-Difficult/dp/1570623449

    Every time life drops another bomb on me, this is the book I reach for.

    • J – Yes! My good friend Esperanza just sent it to me, and I’m reading that in tandem with my Self-Kindness book. I read the chapter last night on the four maras, which is where this is coming from, honestly. I identified with all of them, but the biggest one was Kleshamara – mental afflictions. It was then the bulb went off. I have another post about my fear of Death and how I’m trying to be aggressive at controlling my life so that I avoid Death. Kind of amazing, isn’t it? We really are our own worst enemies sometimes.

  3. Isn’t it so frustrating when we recognize what is going on and we still don’t know how to fix it? I hate that. Sometimes there are no fixes. And sometimes the fix is good, old fashion, time.

    I think the one thing you might try is mindfulness meditation. That can help you build the foundation on which “notice” instead of react. It is HARD to make the time for it but if you can, I believe it can be transformative. I am doing it again and it has been really helpful. When I did it for two weeks a while back it was amazing. Even just 15-25 minutes a day can be so helpful. I just feel quieter, stiller, more at peace when I do it. It might be the tool to bring you to the place of self-acceptance that you recognize but can’t attain.

    Sending love and life during this shattered time.

  4. Hi I saw your comments on “My Bum Ovaries” about running a marathon between treatments–we did the same! And it felt so good! Well, we have a upcoming IVF in a few weeks(our 6th! With no BFP or even a m/c:(), I intend to keep up the exercise until my RE tie me to a bed! 🙂

  5. I honestly think you are making huge strides just by asking these questions and by examining your inner voices. So many people never sit still long enough to really listen to what their body/mind are saying, and what they are saying (or not saying) back.

  6. You know, I don’t think it’s wrong, trying to take a pro-active stance. I know several people at least who deal with things that way, instead of by sitting, and they get there just the same – they just need a task to stop them hitting rock bottom before they work it all out. Me, I prefer to sit with it. I can’t actually get anything else productive done until I’ve sorted myself out. But that’s me. (It’s not necessarily a stellar approach, either – there are pros and cons.)

    So I think your inner voice that’s telling you you’re no good needs to take a hike (and not with you!) but the doing things versus sitting with it is up to your own style.

    • Absolutely, B – I agree 100% that at times it’s better to keep yourself occupied instead of sitting. But if you’re using tasks as a way to avoid pain, or you’re wallowing instead of processing, neither works. And I’ve been noticing that I do both – I either try and escape, or I wallow. There has GOT to be a middle ground somewhere.

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