There’s nothing like a conversation with someone on the opposite side of the fence to smack me upside the head with a dose of reality… and gratitude. I’ve been rather upset about some changes at work that have taken place, afraid of the stress those changes will bring on, and exhausted by the demands of life in general. In short, I’ve been the sole attendee at a pity-party.
My job shows me the face of the current economic situation everyday. Working on the front lines of Human Services in a rural county, I see people with Master’s Degrees in Business scrambling for management jobs at McDonald’s and Skilled Tradesman in deep, soul wrenching depression and homelessness. My embarassment that I couldn’t feel more gratitude in the face of all this was poorly disguised by a need to not be defeated. As we sat and this dawned on me, I realized that I needed to find a way past my pride, fear and selfishness. All that anger and frustration that I put out in needing support was a cry for me to reach within and give myself the love I had been seeking. By the end of the evening, we had a good laugh at ourselves.
This morning, I woke up with a migraine to beat all hell. I dragged myself out of bed just in time to make sure little one was fed and to get him to school, then came home, medicated, and slept. I woke up again with less pain, but more nausea, and realized that I only get these when I’m stressed out. So humbled by the physical pain, I began to question what I need to do differently to start the healing process.
First, I had to trigger the vulnerability that needs to come out in order to admit the truth to myself. Physical pain is certainly one trigger. It is the one thing that I may have a high tolerance for, but I alway succumb to it at a level that makes me willing to do whatever it takes to get through it. Music is another, but I haven’t been making the time for it as much lately. Yet another way to do this for me is a poignant, inspirational, feel-good movie or story. Say what you want, but seeing someone else (fictional or not) come through their struggles with love seems to open up my heart. It shows me what I’ve been trying to protect with my negativity so I can get a little bit closer, become a better friend to myself.
Often, writing is the only way to tangibly grasp what is in my soul. When I write, I am on autopilot; I am in touch with myself on that level that screams out to break free. I often find it hard to say what I mean verbally, and turn to the written word to find a way to express myself. That is when I start to see the peices of my life come together in a way that changes my perspective. This kind of self-inquiry results in the level of love and acceptance that fuels my social, spiritual and political beliefs about equality and compassion.
On the flipside, when I am out of touch with myself and I am faced with so much negativity, I tend to lose touch with that in others as well. I begin to buy into the stories rather than the whole picture, and I begin to feel lost and alone. As the people who have been the mirrors that I relied on to get to this kind of level of self inquiry are no longer in my life, I have been challenged to be more self-reliant than ever before. I have been reluctant to accept the challenge, as I have been buying my own story of self pity for the past couple of years, and it has manifested itself in many ways.
The (somewhat dark) humor in all of this is that the thing that I have been trying to protect stems from the internal level of self-awareness that has evolved in my growth-journey. I’ve learned where my thresholds for stress and pain are and have tried to protect those boundaries in a self-perpetuating cycle. The good news is that there is always opportunity for growth, and each lesson while be expounded upon at a higher level throughout the course of our lives. Fearing this only lengthens the time it takes to learn the lesson. If I’ve learned (and continue to do so) nothing else in my life, it is that running from pain will always make it worse in the end.
So today, I am resting up for the challenges ahead, healing my body from the abuse I’ve put it through, and opening up a little more to the potential that this wonderful gift of life holds for us. Whatever you have in life, whatever lot you have been thrown, know that it is a gift that you have the strength and courage to humbly accept and be grateful for.