It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly insignificant comments or conversations end up figuring prominently in my life. Sometimes, I do not recognize the significance or meaning until years later, while other times, I have a visceral reaction that cause my life to change in an instant. A few days ago, I was given the gift of one of those precious comments that had a profound effect on me at precisely the right time.
I began the week with a sleepless and anxiety ridden Sunday night that left me physically and emotionally exhausted, yet my mind was working overtime generating a never-ending supply of negative thoughts to keep me on edge for most of the day. In the past, I have suffered as quietly as possible when my anxiety kicks into high gear, but I have realized that remaining silent only makes the chatter in my head become a din so loud that I cannot hear my own voice of reason. So, I turned to some trusted friends to share my tale of woe, and as always, I received both support and sound advice to be able to survive and thrive. I have reflected on my friends’ comments and suggestions throughout the week, and lo and behold, the anxiety has retreated. Of all the advice, though, two sentences were the ones that cut through all the negative self-talk and went straight to my heart to, not only bring me back, but to help me take another step forward.
Growing up, I envied my friends who had older brothers, as I fantasized about having a big brother to look up to as my protector and defender and someone I could tag along after. Little did I know back then that, sometimes, your “family” consists of people who not share your DNA, and in recent years, I discovered the big brother I never had but always wanted. Neil and I refer to one another as “soul siblings”, and he is one of the few people who truly understands my heart and baby soul. So, it did not surprise me when I confided in him on Monday that his was the response that resonated with me instantaneously. He stated so matter-of-factly and beautifully that, “You are allowed all of the emotional pain of the heart. Just none that questions who you are.”
His words literally leapt off the screen and into my mind and heart when I read them, and I felt a sense of calm begin to replace the anxiety almost instantly. He lives across the country, but at that moment, my big brother was right here with me, defending me from myself. To me, it was such a new concept that I could experience pain without allowing the pain to make me doubt who I am. I could feel lousy, without being a lousy person. A seemingly obvious concept somehow had been lost on me all of these years, even though I know this to be true for others, but I find it difficult to claim for myself. Where others receive a free pass, I issue myself a “go to directly to jail” card when times get tough, as I assume I must be at fault and/or that I am not a good enough person.
At times, I am my own worst enemy, as no-one can make me feel worse about myself than I can. I don’t do it consciously, though; it is almost reflexive when I am faced with conflict or a painful situation. Sometimes, I believe that I question myself, because if I can find an answer to the question, then, perhaps, I can change or control the situation and/or those involved in the situation. If only it were that easy, though, which, of course, it is not. So, I am learning to evaluate my role in situations, and at the same time, I am separating myself from the situation itself, as it does not and cannot define me or detract from who I am.
I may be in a work in progress, but I like who I am and who I am becoming. As stated in my “About” page on this blog, “I am simply myself, and I am many things to many people, including, but not limited to, a better ex-wife than wife; a mom to two extraordinary daughters; the youngest of three daughters, who puts the fun in dysfunctional; a loyal friend to a diverse cast of characters; a social worker who is not a bleeding heart liberal; an avid lover of music of all sorts; a big-hearted and true blue Kentucky girl; a big dreamer, despite living through some nightmares; and so on.” People and situations may come and go, and I will continue to grow and change, but I still am me, and nothing and no-one can change that, unless I allow them to do so. I need to get out of my own way and remember who I am and what I bring to the table. As another very wise friend, Rebecca, said to me this week, “Perhaps the lesson in this is learning to let go . . .” , and so I am.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story