First, let me just say….ow. I can’t walk straight. My legs are wobbling, it hurts to stand up, my arse feels like it’s broken and I’m writing this in a bathtub I may not be able to exit. I’m back … Continue reading
Category Archives: self-improvement
The Burden of Hope
Like many, I’ve had a tough time with this election, my worry and fear culminating in the late night text from my best and typically most unflappable friend that read simply: ” May God Help Us All.”
Images from the Hunger Games and the Senate scene in Star Wars (complete with Emperor Palpatine’s smirking glare) have been dancing through my brain all night at the voting results…possibly a result of all the mainlined sugar. I woke up this morning with a horrible feeling of dread and a post-election hangover. I didn’t want to get out bed.
I’m slowly moving out of shock. I’m saddened and sickened at the thought that so much anger and hatred exists within our nation, and I’m deeply worried at its direction and what the outcome of this election really means. I hate the thought of trying to find the right words with which to talk about it to my children. I hate the thought that perhaps I am being overly dramatic, but somehow this really rocked me at the level of the soul.
I also feel guilty: none of this is new, none of it should have this power to shock me, and yet it does. As someone who has struggled her whole lifetime with depression and anxiety, I’ve purposely shielded myself from a lot of what is going on in the world as a way of self-preservation.
And honestly, I have been able to do that as a straight, college-educated, white, middle-class female. While I’m aware there is a glass ceiling objectively, I’m not smart enough or driven enough to have hit it too hard myself. I have suffered neither racial nor religious persecution. I have not been a victim of violence. I can still turn off my TV and my social media outlets and keep much of the ugliness at bay much of the time.
Breaking that habit over the last two days, in allowing CNN and the media and my own fears to turn me into a terrified, fearful and depressed little girl is on me. I allowed that hated, those horrible words, and accusations to penetrate. I allowed in that anger. I listened to those speeches. I own that: both the shame I felt for our country and for my own helpless indignation. Yes, the stomach-churning anxiety and the generalized sense that something is horribly, terribly wrong is still here. But, post-Xanax and a few pounds heavier, it’s also opened my eyes and I am forcing myself through.
I’m a Christian. I’m a Catholic. I’m a Mother. I’m imperfect as all heck at all three, but I know for sure if I search my heart I know there is more than this. Not only do I believe there is the world beyond this one, but also I believe there is a better world *within* this one. We have fallen. I have fallen. I need to give more, take action, and speak up. I need to use my hands to help. I can’t hide from this any longer and still expect things to be different.
At the end of the day, hope is a verb. Hope is a step taken. Hope feeds the hungry, clothes the naked and protects the vulnerable regardless of race or skin type. Hope is being uncomfortable in the unknown, fighting the fear and being faithful that there is a plan. Hope is getting up in the morning and taking a step and doing something. I can do more. I cannot expect more of my leaders than I do of myself. I cannot change our culture, only my part in it. I will be more. I will be grateful that no matter what I think of the choice we made as a country last night that we had a choice…and that we can make better ones.
So, I’m throwing out the Halloween candy I binged on last night, closing the wine cabinet, and putting on my big girl pants. It’s a New Day. I choose Hope.
“I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!”
Yes, it was a bad television commercial for some kind of medical alert bracelet, but how many times have you found yourself getting caught up in one mistake and either a)letting it suck you dry and giving up entirely on whatever it was you were attempting or b)focusing so much on the mistake you just made that you make another because you’re so stuck mentally on a past error you can’t see what’s right in front of you?
I have lost weeks of my life and productivity and happiness and peace because I could not see past my own mistakes. Whether I sacrificed my mood, my attention, or my own perception of myself, I have made Mt. Everest out of problems that started out the size of mouse poop…that seriously ended up the size of two mountains and a mini-van because I didn’t deal with them in a healthy way.
(And don’t ask me how I know what the size of a mouse poop is. I just know.)
When you make a mistake, do you find yourself doing any of the following?
- Generalizing – “Well, I guess I’ll just add that to my long list of things I’ve screwed up” and then look back over your metal inventory of errors;
- Freezing – Getting so stuck in thinking through every dire and terrible thing that will surely come as a consequence of your mistake that you can do nothing else;
- Negative Self-Talk – I’m such an idiot, I’m a failure, and then of course calling your friends/associates not for help solving the problem but to talk negatively about yourself to them as a sort of self-punishment;
- Ruminating – where you literally can’t think straight or notice what is going on around you because your brain is so focused on what you had done wrong that you’re in a mental and emotional tailspin;
- Blaming – hoping like hell there is someone else you can pin the error on to take the heat off yourself in any way possible so you don’t have to own what you did;
- Hiding – Making great efforts to cover up your mistake or praying simply that no one else notices and trying to convince yourself you hadn’t noticed either
Take it from someone who knows and has been there: if you’re looking for a way to waste your life, breath, and energy and potentially endanger your health, job, self-worth and friendships, then feel free to continue, but it’s not something I’d recommend.
Here’s the difficult thing: whatever it is – it’s done. The only safe way to handle a mistake is to look it straight in the face, own it, take responsibility for it and whatever that entails. You then try to find a solution for it, make reparations, and problem-solve as effectively and as completely as possible and move on, trying not to repeat the mistake.
Moving on, by the way, means *really* moving on. Leave it in the sand. Drop it. Forgive yourself. I once heard it said like this: your body doesn’t ask if you are worthy when it knows there has been damage done. It just starts work on healing what’s there without judgement. Do that for yourself. Take the next best steps whatever those are, one at a time.
How many years of your life could we get back if we treated ourselves with the same objectivity when we messed up, and worked to fix our issues and mistakes without the judgment, shame, or mental mess that so often trips us up? What if we treated others the same way? Oh what a world we could create!
Get Back Up. Brush Yourself Off. Rub some dirt on it. Life is a giant adventure and you’ve got better things ahead and no time to waste! Get up and get at them today!