(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)
I took a 6 hour embodiment workshop at a meditation center in Boston on Saturday, where I spent the morning learning how to live inside my body, to move WITH my body, and to be in the present moment. After eating lunch in silence (the BEST sandwich and salad I’ve ever tasted!), we walked to a park down the road from the center.
And as I was wandering between the trees, feeling the bark with my hands, looking up at the leaves blowing in the wind, it struck me that I needed to be more like a tree.
I’ve been living in the tops lately, blown about by the wind of anxiety and stress and worry and insomnia – afraid I’ll blow away.
What would happen if I stopped inhabiting that space in my mind and instead lived inside my body, rooted in the nourishing ground of my life, my friends and family and career and hobbies all helping me stand tall and thick?
I was never really into science when I was a kid. Which is unfortunate, really – there’s a LOT of really interesting stuff I never learned.
I DID learn Newton’s Laws of motion. But I feel like I learned that stuff in a vacuum.
Because it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve discovered that Newton’s Third Law is actually applicable to the tidal movement of emotions.
To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions.
Lucky turned 5 on Sunday. And as I was telling my friend D, he’s READY to be five. We’ve seen real changes in his behavior just this weekend: taking on responsibility to clean up his toys when he’s done playing with them with only a reminder from us (before he’d beg us to “help him!”). We’ve made some very real strides with the pottying stuff (another post for another time).
Almost overnight, it seems, he’s become independent.
It’s almost like the past few months of issues we’ve had with him was in ANTICIPATION of being five, and when he turned five, he made the decision that he was a Big Kid. And has been acting that way, at least for the past couple of days.
I also met with my running coach a couple of times last week: once to set goals for my next training cycle, and once for a one-on-one workout with him on Tuesday night. He told me that, at my CURRENT fitness level, he thought I had it in me to qualify for the Boston Marathon. On Tuesday night, he set time goals for me for a workout which I easily met. It confirmed that I do, in fact, have the potential to run a BQ race this year.
Now, you need to understand: running the Boston Marathon was on my bucket list even before I was a runner (want proof? This post from 2007). The way to run Boston? You need to run a marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes to qualify (for my current age), or raise $5k+ for a charity.
I want to qualify.
Now, having the POTENTIAL to qualify and actually DOING it are two very different things. I have one marathon under my belt, which wasn’t exactly the best experience – I was injured at mile 22 and then walked the rest. I don’t have a lot of experience with marathons, which means that there’s a lot of variables that contribute to an actual marathon time.
But just HEARING that I have a potential is so gratifying.
On Sunday, I ran 5 miles in honor of Lucky’s 5th birthday. I had just run 10 the day before, a little too fast because it was so. freaking. COLD outside. So my legs were tired. I kept having to slow down, and my pace started to worry me, just a bit.
And then, this thought: Serenity, stop worrying about what you SHOULD be doing. This is what’s happening NOW. This run. Today.
As I heard This run. Today. over and over in my head, another thought popped up.
This LIFE. Today.
All of a sudden, I saw the parallels from the run to my life. I’ve had this idea of what my life SHOULD be like for so long now.
But, really, I’m living THIS life. And remaining attached to the life I was hoping to have is causing me to suffer.
In that moment, as soon as I realized, I let go of the idea of another child. Just, poof, let it go. Released it. And I came home to my family, and we spent the day celebrating how lucky we were, and I watched Lucky play with his friends and then his cousin until late into the night.
Lucky HAS a brother – my nephew. He has sisters and brothers in his friends. We don’t need more children to complete our family. We’re complete as we are.
Sunday was confirmation, for me, that I have the potential to be happy in the here and now. I was surprised at the depth of the feeling, the absolute peace I felt. I savored it, reveled in it. It felt AMAZING.
And then I woke up on Monday. Where the peace was replaced with grief. Sadness. Lucky is getting so big, and there will be no more babies. And when I started making plans to get rid of his baby toys – to really purge all the baby items from our attic – the feeling grew, until last night it nearly swallowed me.
The opposite reaction to peace is sadness for me, it seems. And like the waves, they crash around me.
I have never liked the ocean. I nearly drowned when I was Lucky’s age, and being out of control in a raging sea has always terrified me.
But it seems, that emotions ebb and flow like the ocean.
And I’m finally figuring out how to navigate these seas, I think.
Please don’t hate me for posting and then running away. I promise I’m still here, still alive.
It’s work. OMG, people, it’s killing me. I’m with a new client where I’m filling in for an accounting manager who is on maternity leave (yes, I know. The irony!) and it’s just NUTTY. Regular payrolls, off-cycle payrolls, invoice reviews, journal entries, month end close.
As much as I hate the detail orientation of my job, at least I’m busy. And I have to admit, I like the breakneck pace. So that’s something.
Because I am so damn busy, my best thinking time, right now, is usually on my weekend long runs.
And the thought struck me this past weekend.
We got really lucky when we brought home our son.
And yes, I know, I’ve said that before. But always with bitterness, the taste of my broken dreams on my tongue. With the pain of struggling and two miscarriages and no hope left as part of that sentence.
I’ve been so focused on how much it hurts that we just got lucky that I’ve ignored the fact we got really, really lucky in the first place.
But the thing is. We DID get lucky. We really did.
And what would it be like to focus on the fact that we got lucky when we brought home our son? To embrace what a miracle it is that THAT embryo implanted in a place in my uterus which was able to sustain him, and my body nourished him for 37 weeks and 2 days?
What would it be like to forgive my body for not being able to have another child? To accept it as a part of me, faulty uterus and all, because it was that body that carried our son, that fed him for most of the first year of his life, that tickles and embraces and wraps around him as he grows?
I am so tired of resisting, of fighting my body, of tasting bitterness whenever I look in the mirror. Yeah, I might look better than I did, but this body still failed me.
It’s like I’m so myopically focused on the Fail that I forget what my body can DO, how lucky I really AM.
I have a good life.
What would it be like to spend time focusing on the good?
I don’t know.
But I’m going to start.
I need to find a way to move on. And I know, seeing a post on FB about how “being an only child sucks!” will hurt. And the question, “is he your only?” will hurt, too.
But we are lucky, too. Lucky AND unlucky. And it’s time I start looking at the whole picture.
This weekend, I ran a 10 mile race. And at the start, when I got my number, there was a table where a woman was selling t-shirts. The Company is called the b positive project, and they had t-shirts for St. Patrick’s Day.
Which, as all of you know, is Lucky’s 5th birthday this year.
So I bought a shirt, and I got home and put it on. Fit perfectly.
And tonight, when I showed my nearly 5-year old the shirt, he told me to put it on. When I did, he said to me: Mommy! I like that shirt – it looks like my hat. I want to take a picture of you!
I hate having pictures taken of me. And this one – my hair was a mess, and so was our kitchen. And really, no, I don’t want a picture taken of me, thanks. I’m good.
But hey. He wanted to do it. And really, why not?
So I gave him my iPhone, and watched him as he stepped back, said, Say cheese, Mommy! Look pretty! and carefully took a picture of me.
The time is going by so quickly; with every day he’s growing up, learning something new, teaching me about patience, and love, and parenting. He makes me a better person.
He is my joy, even when he drives me batty.
And so. Here’s the picture he took of me today. Me, in my messy kitchen, ripped slippers, messy hair, and all. This is my life.
I am so very lucky.
For so long now, I’ve had this internal monologue. And though it changes, depending on my moods and what’s going on in my life right now, it can really be parsed to a few words.
You’re no good, Serenity.
My best friend and I made plans to have lunch at the end of next week, and it wasn’t until Sunday that I realized: you know, we never had our lunch together.
Turns out she got struck down by the flu last week. And thankfully her parents are in town, but why didn’t I check in with her when I hadn’t heard from her for a couple of days?
I kind of suck at this friend thing.
My boss’s three week old son is in the NICU with a case of RSV. And she sent me an email last night about how it would take a load off her mind if I could work today and commit to more hours this week. But talking with her today, she just wants me to work faster on the scut work I’m doing now. Which, for anyone interested, is going through a year’s worth of invoices and figuring out if the invoice should be accrued for or booked as a prepaid on the quarter end dates.
It’s numbingly boring, soul-killing work. Important, because the company basically has never really used the accrual method of accounting, but I’m done with it. And it’s sucked ANY motivation I might have dredged up for this client right out the window.
And I had a conversation with another friend this weekend, where she said she was okay with doing something that wasn’t her passion, because she was good at her job, and she took satisfaction in taking on challenges and being successful.
I don’t know the last time I felt like I was good at my job. It’s been years.
After three weeks of happily doing nothing but running, my legs are achy and tight and am THIS close to a recurrence of my IT Band tendinitis. So I am back at the gym and weight training, which is absolute drudgery. I KNOW it’ll help my runs, but I hate it and finding the time to do it is hard on a consistent basis.
And honestly, what’s the POINT? It’s not like I’m going to break any records anyway. I COULD just run half marathons with friends, chatting the whole way, just for the sake of getting out. Why do I keep forcing myself to run faster and get better?
Charlie and I have had some words over what I am calling the Lucky Yell. I think it’s good that he’s using his words to tell us that he’s angry, and that eventually he’ll figure out he can’t yell at us all the time.
Charlie hates being yelled at.
And I realized, as I was defending Lucky’s yelling habit: I yell too. Way too much.
What I used to think as passion?
It’s just anger.
These are my internal monologues, you see. And until recently, I’ve actually played into it. Allowed myself to really BELIEVE the words I’ve told myself. That I suck. That I’m no good. That I have to make up for my No Good by working harder and longer; really PROVING that I’m okay.
It’s part of why I’ve been doing treatments for so long, you see. I believe, on some level, that I don’t deserve kids. And doing treatments over and over? I’m making up for not being worthy by suffering.
I’ve been noticing this, you see. And I’m starting to resist it.
Who SAYS I have to do any more treatments? Keep working a job I hate? Run harder and faster and longer to prove that my body’s not a failure?
I don’t have to do anything. I don’t HAVE to be captive to my Inner Critic.
I think, anyway. Time will only tell.
Over the past year, I’ve had an education in running through injury.
You didn’t know it was possible, huh? I didn’t either. When I first got tendonitis at the Marine Corps Marathon, I figured I just couldn’t run. That’s what the doctor said.
And then I met with a physical therapist who told me that it was just tendonitis, and once we fixed the underlying problem CAUSING the tendonitis, it would eventually go away. It took me a LONG TIME. I started running again, regularly, in January. In February I ran a half marathon where my IT band started acting up at mile 7, and by mile 13 I was limping and nearly crying in pain and frustration.
But I was back out training not even a week later, once the flare up had gone away. And though it was never that bad ever again, I had nagging hip pain and tightness FOREVER.
I did research and changed up my form; started running toward toes more, in the hopes that whatever was causing the tightness would go away. And it takes time to build the endurance for a new form – there were some long runs where I had to switch back to my old habits because I just couldn’t run on my forefoot any more. My feet were tired a lot.
But slowly, the hip stuff went away. It was a week before my half marathon in September before I realized that I hadn’t had ANY hip pain for a month or so.
And then? I promptly sprained my ankle at the start of the half marathon, and I ran the damn race anyway. And I couldn’t walk for a couple of days.
It’s been 6 weeks since I sprained my ankle. And I took three full weeks off of running. With the D&E I haven’t been allowed to swim – too much risk of infection. So three weeks ago, I decided I needed to get back into running, because I had no other outlet and I needed it.
I started slowly – walk/run intervals. Short distance – 2 – 3 miles. And the ankle hurt. That first week I couldn’t run on my toes; had to use my old habits in order to finish a walk/run.
And sure enough, my IT band started acting up again. And my breathing was HIDEOUS – I lose my cardio fitness so damn easily. So I added cycling to my schedule, 1-2 days a week, where I was pedaling hard and really pushing my breathing but not hurting my ankle.
And the second week I ditched my old shoes and bad habits and started running more on my toes again.
I am starting to see the rewards. Last week, I had my first pain-free run. My ankle was sore for the rest of the week, just a dull ache, but with ice and advil and stretching, and my PT exercises, it was okay. And I’ve been able to run 5 miles for my long runs the past two weeks, nice and slow.
This week? Tuesday’s run felt amazing – light and happy. My ankle twinged a couple of times, but largely I felt GREAT.
Today’s run, I was able to extend the distance by a mile and a quarter, and still only a couple of twinges.
Running when you’re NOT injured is largely about teaching your body how to handle discomfort. Even the slower runs, where you can have a conversation with someone, there’s discomfort as you push the distance and your muscles get tired. The short fast run is about teaching your body to handle the cardiovascular discomfort. Recovery runs are about teaching your body to ACTIVELY recover, getting those muscles to push through the lactic acid and warm up.
And when you run through injury*, the discomfort gets dialed up a bit. There were some days where I ran at a pain level of 7 or 8. That was really hard.
With my ankle, my pain levels running that first week was a 5 or 6. The second week, it was a 3 or 4. And this week, it’s been a 1.
When you’re used to running with pain, and then the pain is gone? It’s a whole new world. Today’s run made me feel AMAZING. Strong. Comfortable.
And on a run like that, the buzz of the voices and responsibilities and my Inner Critic that clutters up my day all melts away. I’m left with nothing but the cadence of the run and my breathing. And in that space, between my breaths, I feel CLEAR. And strong, and happy, and light, and free.
Running is my zen. It connects me to my core, into my soul, away from all the clutter of everyday life. And when I have a run like I did today, when it’s over, I feel renewed and refreshed.
And so very thankful.
*Please note I mean a RUNNABLE injury. Ankle sprains and tendonitis are runnable injuries. Stress fractures and/or fractures are NOT runnable injuries, just as a FYI. Always talk to your doctor or physical therapist before you decide, hey, I’m going to RUN through this stuff.
So. Yeah, Friday was a Low.
I figured I’d have good days and bad days. What I didn’t figure into the equation was my mother’s drama. Which, of COURSE the whole thing would blow up then.
I am not calling her, nor am I apologizing for speaking my mind and telling her that she’s disappointing people. She emailed me and my siblings about the Frankenstorm, and I responded directly to her, with a sentence that told her I hope her hand was healing well.
I have also gathered a bunch of Lucky’s artwork – all the Angry Birds stuff, because OMG he is utterly! obsessed! with! drawing! Angry Birds! – and will have him make her a get well card.
But that’s about as close as I’m going to get.
And I can tell you how this is going to play out: she’s not going to respond to me, until I do the right thing and call her and apologize for my disrespect. I won’t get a call on my birthday next month. I won’t get a card. She’s going to withhold her love until I fall into line, and then she’s going to spend her time telling me how awful it was for HER, this whole time, how hard it is on her to go through MAJOR SURGERY on her hand, and that she had no choice but to stay home and not travel, yada yada yada.
I’ll never get an apology from her for hanging up on me, nor any acknowledgement that she has any part of the blame of any of this.
I have been trying to be really, really patient with myself; to treat my Emotional Self as a friend, with kindness and understanding, instead of my usual impatience/fear/denial.
The phrase that has become my mantra? A Rumi quote, which I read a long time ago.
Don’t turn away, keep your eye on the bandaged place.
That’s where the light enters you.
It’s surprising to me how much WORK this is for me. Which, honestly, it SHOULDN’T surprise me: I’ve spent nearly 37 years coping with bad stuff the same way – by telling myself to toughen up, people have it far worse than I do, talking myself out of feeling anything at all…
Then being completely overwhelmed with The Suck when I can’t hold the feelings back and it all crashes over me.
I’ve never liked swimming in the ocean, for good reason. It’s unpredictable, and I’m afraid of drowning.
But, I think, the only way to get through this Suck – including my mother’s drama – is to experience it. To allow myself time and space to grieve.
So that’s what I’m doing. Riding out the storm, knowing that it’ll get better eventually.
My sister is in town this week.
(Seriously, I love, love, LOVE having her around.)
They’ve been trying for 6 years. Two failed IVF cycles – one fresh and one frozen, both paid for out of pocket.
She recently told me that there’s this boy at her school who is in the foster system that she really, really liked spending time with. And at the end of the school year, she decided to look into doing visits with him over the summer, because he was such a good kid and she couldn’t imagine not seeing him.
My sister is actually starting the process of becoming licensed to be a foster parent. She’s said to me, many times since she first told me about him, that they were taking it slow and it was up to this boy if he wanted to spend more time with them.
She told me yesterday that he told them last week that he really, really wanted them to adopt him. And so she told him they were working on making that happen.
She sounds so… well, maternal when she talks about him.
I don’t have the words to tell you all how so very thrilled I am for her.
And something else?
Seeing her, hearing her talk about him, makes me remember the conversation we had about 3 years ago, when she was really having a hard time with their infertility, and I told her that eventually she wouldn’t feel this bad because her infertility would resolve.
I know I’m impatient, and want to resolve our family building efforts NOW… but you know, maybe there’s something to sitting with our infertility. Not really making DECISIONS, per se, but going with our guts.
Right now my gut says we should use up our embryos. When they’re gone? Take a break. Sit with things, see how we feel. Wait it out.
Charlie Brown is teaching Lucky how to cook. Every day when he makes dinner, he asks Lucky, Do you want to help me make [insert foodstuffs here]?
Cooking for me is a chance to focus on one thing. I’m abysmal with knife safety; if I try and hold a conversation while I’m chopping I invariably end up bleeding. I am also a worrier when it comes to the stove and my kid getting burned.
I really want Lucky to experience the joy in making a meal for our family, though. I just know my limits and that, at this point, I’m not the person to help him.
So I happily allow Charlie his bonding time with Lucky over making a meal.
I love how patient my husband is with our son.
I love listening to their conversation.
I love watching them work, two heads bent over bowls and cutting boards and the sink.
For all the burgeoning independence Lucky is being insistent on, he still needs my reassurance and love, especially at the end of the day.
He climbs up into my lap whenever I’m seated and folds himself into a comma, resting against my chest. And I get to wrap my arms around him, all angles and limbs, and kiss his hair.
We still use baby shampoo whenever he showers, a product of buying the massive three pack at BJ’s a year ago.
That’s the only thing that still smells like baby – his hair.
I love those moments, the time where our bond and connection is tangible, palpable in the summer air.
I haven’t been sleeping well these past few weeks. The likely combination of hormones and the summer warmth, I wake up in the middle of the night hot, and it takes a long time for me to fall back asleep.
My wake up time in the morning has crept backwards, what with the monitoring and traffic to my client and birds starting their call at 4am. Right now, I’m generally up for the day at 4:30.
So I’m tired at night; so tired. And I end up in bed before Charlie most nights now.
But whenever he gets into bed, careful not to wake me, I roll over and rest my leg against him. And he rests a hand on my thigh.
Always, every night I fall asleep grounded in the solidness of my husband beside me.
Every night before bed, I go into Lucky’s room to check on him before I head to bed myself.
I tell myself it’s to check the temperature in his room and adjust his covers for him.
But every night, I look down at his sleeping form, otherworldy in the dim light of his nightlight.
Who will he be?
And how did I get this lucky?
I’m struggling, emotionally. Physical discomfort, the timesuck of waiting for my monitoring appointments, and the hormones make me irritable and always on the verge of tears, it seems.
Back in the car, I NEED to talk with someone.
I call my sister. Even though I feel a blinding guilt for complaining about trying for my second child when she doesn’t know if she’ll ever BE a mom.
I choke out how hard this is, how greedy I feel, how much I hate cycling and that I don’t know why I’m doing it. And how much I hate myself for keeping at this when I SHOULD be happy I am a parent in the first place.
She always knows what to say; her voice is a hug over the phone. And I am so, so thankful that she’s my sister.
I collect these moments like when I was a girl and used to collect fireflies. I kept them in a mason jar with a special cover my dad helped me make so that the fireflies were able to breathe.
On days like today, where I am in danger of drowning in the muck dredged up from actively cycling, it’s what keeps me from being overwhelmed.
I can’t wait until this part is over.
Yesterday I went out for a 5 mile run. I was feeling really good in the first mile, so I decided to set my pace faster than I usually go.
I expected it, but it got hard in the third mile.
It’s a mental thing, when I’m trying to run sometimes. My body screams I CAN’T DO THIS! PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!
And I slow a touch, and I force my body to keep going instead of stopping. And inevitably, my body figures it out, and it DOES get easier.
But it was during that Hell Time, where I was willing myself to keep going, that I saw them.
I didn’t know what it was at first – coming out of the darkness it was like a bike, but a runner.
No. It was a man pushing a woman in a wheelchair. The woman was stick thin and bent in what seemed like unnatural angles to me.
And as I came closer, she raised both of her hands, a huge smile on her face, and waved at me enthusiastically.
HI! she said. HI!!!
My good morning back to her was delivered more enthusiastically than usual, and I matched her smile.
The rest of the mile was so much easier.
I am so thankful to have met her.
I was telling my therapist about my post last week, the one where I admitted I felt like I was faking motherhood and marathons. But that it was okay because everyone else is faking it too.
And she asked me, What about the early mom stuff was faking to you?
So I told her that I mostly relied on my SIL, my friends, my mother, my MIL because I knew NOTHING about babies. I even gave her the example of how I had NO IDEA that babies just didn’t fall asleep on their own, that you had to actually put them down for a nap in order to get them to sleep. How I hated feeling so unprepared for being a parent because I thought O would die before he even got here. How if I knew he’d be healthy and fine, I would have read more.
So you have to READ to learn how to be a parent? she asked me.
Wait a second. Was she talking about learning styles?
Turns out, what I’ve been seeing as “faking” is really just LEARNING. It’s different than book learning. It’s learning by DOING.
I’ve been biased against learning by doing for many, many years now.
And it took my therapist to say something for me to realize it.
Now that I’ve realized it, my Inner Critic isn’t as prevalent. Because all I tell her to get her to back off is this:
Shut up. We’re LEARNING.
It’s really hard to believe that the 10th anniversary of September 11 is coming up so soon.
I still remember that morning.
The moment where our CEO told us to go home and be with our families…
… and I realized I was alone. I had no family.
In hindsight, that day was really awful for me. I didn’t lose any friends in the attack. I didn’t know anyone who lost someone that day.
My most vivid memory was trying to find something, anything to do so that I didn’t have to go back to my apartment and sit there by myself.
So much has changed since then.
I’ve changed so much since then, too.
I spent a lot of time when we were trying the first time around trying to make SENSE of our infertility, to take a lesson from it.
I tried to turn it into positives.
And it would be remiss of me to mention that I DO think infertility had some silver linings for me. Not being a naturally patient person, having to work hard for a LONG TIME to get pregnant helped me cultivate a patience I might not have if we got pregnant right away.
And I always remain thankful for O, even at my most annoyed, underlying everything is this thought.
He might not have ever gotten here. He’s worth it.
This time around?
I’m angry. And I don’t have the energy to turn our experience this time around into a positive. We ended up empty-handed after three frozen cycles and two fresh cycles.
I mean, I guess it’s good we only spend $3k on the entire process.
But by fuck, it was NOT worth it.
I’m angry, really angry at infertility. For making it hard on us the first time, and then bitch-slapping us the second time.
My therapist keeps telling me that it’s okay to be angry, that you can accept something and still be angry.
I just hope as time goes on the anger fades a bit, that’s all.
I am still struggling with this blog and what I want to do with it.
Because I am experiencing little earthquakes, but nothing that’s changed my life or my usual patterns. I feel like I’m waiting for the path to open up to me so I can start walking again.
Or maybe it’s just the fact that my marathon training, work, and parenting a three year old is all I seem to have the energy for.
Either way, I’m still working through what my next steps might be. And I want to thank you all for bearing with me. I haven’t been the best kind of blogger lately.
I didn’t intend to go silent after posting that I was thinking about freelancing.
I did email Consulting Lady about working for her – we’re talking today. In an hour or so, actually.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety this week. And part of my silence is really trying to figure out WHY.
Why does the idea of doing giving my notice here scare the shit out of me?
I’ve never been one to be conservative; usually I’m out there changing things up a LOT.
It’s not the change itself that scares me, honestly. It’s GIVING MY NOTICE that scares me. Because I can’t get over the idea that I’d be letting my boss and the people who depend on me down.
It took reading Mel’s post yesterday and my therapy session to really see it. It was like something clicked for me yesterday, where all of a sudden I see it all with clear eyes.
I think I’ve been struggling with my post-IF life because it seems like I’m out of GOALS. I mean, the big things are pretty much done. I have a career, I’m married, with a house… and we’ve established our family.
As far as big milestones go in someone’s life, we’ve pretty much hit them all.
But I’m so damn achievement and goal oriented that I’m floundering. Because for the past 18 years, I suppose, I’ve been working towards these milestones.
And now that I’m here, it’s like, okay, what now?
Yesterday, when I was sitting on the couch in my therapist’s office, it struck me.
Up until now, my happiness has been defined by my ACHIEVEMENT. Which, you know, seems reasonable. I’m goal-oriented. Motivated. Et cetera.
Until you look at little deeper.
My need for achievement is to fill a void inside me. At some point in my life, I took on this idea that I’m not worthy of being loved unless I’m succeeding.
Because achievement PROVES that I’m a good person. That I’m Thoughtful, and Responsible, and a Hard Worker.
That’s why I’m so hard on myself. My Inner Critic is a huge motivator, because without her, I believe that I wouldn’t work nearly as hard to achieve things. Because I have this view of myself as lazy, and weak, and irresponsible.
And that’s why I’m terrified to give my notice. Because people depend on me here, and if I leave, I’ll be screwing them by adding work to THEIR plate. And I am scared that they’ll talk to people about me and say, Serenity just couldn’t cut it here.
So even though I KNOW there’s no perfect, no ideal, I have to come as close to Perfect as I possibly can. Because working hard and therefore deserving of love and good things.
I’m standing in my OWN WAY of happiness. Because I’ve built my life around the expectation that you’re only deserving of happiness if you work really hard. And be Responsible, and Thoughtful, and Hard Working.
What I think I need to work on is learning how to accept that I am deserving of happiness and love no matter what I do – or don’t do.
I’m not certain how to go about getting started. How does one learn how to love themselves unconditionally?
Guess I’ll have to find out. Because this very thing is the root of all the vague and not-so-vague issues I have with my career. I can’t say no, be okay with work-life balance because I have to work harder and do more than I’m prepared to do. I have to give 150% in order to feel successful.
And it affects my marriage, too. Since I don’t believe I’m worthy of love, J has the dubious distinction of being foolish in that he DOES love me, the stupid man.
This is REALLY important, because it really does affect EVERYTHING.
So maybe my Serenity project needs to change.
“A Year of Mindfulness: or How I Learned to Love Myself.”
Sounds about right. Just need to figure out how to get started.