Last Tuesday, I wrote about a shopping trip with my sister that brought up some big feelings for me. The trip highlighted the ways in which opportunities that are mundane for many are triggering and difficult for me. (I had to have two vodka shots before going to try Thai food for the first time.) Almost nine years ago, I had an eye-opening fight with my mother. It wasn’t a fight I initiated or that I saw coming, but it changed my life by creating an opening through which I could see that what I believed had existed had not. Since then, I’ve been in and out of therapy, working to heal and begin again without the baggage.
I’ve acknowledged and grieved the loss of the reality in which I had lived for 46 years. I’ve scrutinized what that time in the dark meant my life had actually been. I spent years laboring earnestly, like an archaeologist with dental tools and brushes, to unearth the way events of my past had created who I was now and shaped the life I had created for myself as an adult. I wasn’t guarded, cynical, and defensive solely because I was born that way or because it was what had been modeled for me as a child. It was also attributable to decisions I made as an adult because of the messages I ingested through my youth. That was a heartbreaking revelation. I spent years learning to forgive myself for not having figured this out sooner and, instead, flying blindly through life until midway through my 40s. That was precious time lost. But I survived it all and am feeling much healthier and happier. I’m not disappointed in or angry about my past because it made me resilient and capable. I am not only to see but also appreciate the me that I am.
After Monday’s EMDR session in therapy, I awoke on Tuesday feeling lighter. EMDR psychotherapy can radically alter a person’s perception of their memories, and the messages they carry as a result of those memories, in just a few hours. By Wednesday, Monday’s work had been processed enough that I felt different in my body. I felt taller and more willing to take up space in the world. I felt less willing to settle for the crumbs I used to think were all I deserved. Every day since then I have continued to practice living in that place. I’ve noticed that comments from others that might have sent me into an overthinking tailspin and elicited an immediate, defensive overreaction have shifted to more innocuous thoughts like, “Well, that’s one way to think about it.” I believe I am not responsible for anyone else’s thoughts and feelings. I don’t have to bend myself into a pretzel attempting to fix things that make others uncomfortable, nor do I have to make myself smaller so they can feel better. Although I’ve known that on an intellectual level for a while, I hadn’t been able to actualize it. More incredibly, my thoughts about myself have shifted. I’m not seeing myself as broken or in need of fixing. I recognize the parts of me that maybe aren’t my favorites, but I also see the ways I am actually pretty awesome. I’m learning not to take everything so seriously and to know the people who love me wish me no harm, and the people who are unkind or unengaged don’t matter.
I’ve worked long and hard to get here. And while I’m not finished doing the work, I am pausing today to take a victory lap for this phase of my journey. Halle-frickin-lujah!
I know this post is totally random, but this is where I am today and it felt important to mark the occasion. Ten years later, this blog is still for me what it has always been, an online journal, a place to store my experiences and memories and enshrine my struggles and growth. So that is what I came here to do today. I also want to thank my readers for traveling some rough seas with me, and for tossing me an orange, float ring and hauling me back into the boat when I’ve fallen out. Your patience and kind words have been a lifeline on more occasions than you might believe, and I am grateful for you.
Here’s to love and light going forward, with only the occasional storm to weather.
The human mind is an incredible machine, but its not perfect. The good news is that in most cases it can fix itself with the right kind of input.
The simplest revelation came to me one day out of the blue, standing in the pantry, looking for the next “…I need to/should…”. My obsession to continually look for the tiny chinks in the armor often borders on “There must be something wrong with me.”
From somewhere in that left hemisphere my brain tossed this thought to my mouth. I spoke it aloud and was nearly startled by the utterance, as if possessed.
Looking around at all the achievements and accomplishments I’ve accumulated, this beautiful life I had forged for my family and myself, now retired to enjoy it fully, and being unable to find a fault to focus on, my brain drew a different conclusion.
“It” said: “There must be something RIGHT with me.”
Cheering for you on your victory lap,
Thanks, Paz. The best part about these steps forward is that once you see the truth, you can’t unsee it. I won’t fall into that hole of taking less for myself anymore because I understand I am worth more than I once believed. Powerful stuff. Thank you for hanging in there and encouraging me. I am so grateful for all the wisdom you have shared. Be well!
What a beautiful self-reflection post of growth this sentence says it all “I’m not disappointed in or angry about my past because it made me resilient and capable. I am not only to see but also appreciate the me that I am.” Now, I am curious did you have to have those two shots of vodka before trying Americans version of Thai food, or actual Thai food in Thailand if the latter I so understand…lol
I had to have two shots of vodka to order Thai food in a Thai restaurant in the US because I was so afraid I wouldn’t be able to pronounce anything or would order something weird or would look like a total idiot in front of this guy I really liked and respected. I’m only just now learning how to put myself out there and risk mistakes to experience life.
The important part is that you are willing to learn and grow beyond your comfort zone. Also, good for you for trying to pronounce the names of dishes. I am a point and numbers girl when I eat at cultural restaurants.
I figure any way we approach something that is novel is better than not trying it at all. If I mispronounce something, so what? There’s no law against it. And maybe they will correct me and I will learn another new thing. And it only took me 32 years to figure this out, but I’m here now and so grateful for it.