Forgive yourself for everything you didn’t know in the past. Don’t waste any of your precious energy beating up yourself or anyone else. Your power to change your life is in the present, regardless of your past. ~ Dr. Christiane Northrup
I still have a lot of work to do.
I recently put myself in a situation that I knew would be difficult, based on many years of previous experience. I set some specific goals: no raised voices and no tears. I even made a pact with myself. In order to meet these goals I vowed that I would:
• avoid subjects that I know are “button pushing” subjects • change the subject tactfully if “button pushing” topics came up • take deep breaths and soften my eyes when feeling myself wanting to react • remember the healthy boundaries I have set in the past, boundaries that protect • be loving • avoid having an agenda • enjoy myself • be myself
The results were mixed.
On the positive side, there were no raised voices and no tears; I avoided “button pushing,” I avoided outwardly reacting, and I banished my agenda. I am proud of myself for that because it used to be that I seemingly had no control over my emotions in this particular situation.
On the negative side, I wasn’t able to set healthy boundaries and that resulted in feeling powerless and impotent and so I reacted inwardly. I was NOT myself because previous experience shows that I need to keep my guard up. There are times when I can relax, but that can change quickly. I went from feeling mildly frustrated and annoyed to feeling burning, boiling rage. It brings me to tears just thinking about it now, days later.
I tried so hard to avoid outward conflict that I created huge amounts of it within. In hindsight, my goal should have been “create harmony” not “avoid conflict.”
I saw a quote today from someone I trust and admire ( Pat Barone ): “If you resist the hard places/difficult times, you lose the opportunity to grow to the other side.”
Light bulb moment! Here I thought I was doing a good thing by avoiding the conflict, but what I really did was resist a hard place, a difficult time, and so I lost an opportunity to grow. I lost an opportunity to be authentically me. Maybe I’m still not exactly sure what that means.
The point of writing this is to get to the next point. In my last blog post I wrote:
“Over the years I’ve had what seemed like all-consuming “issues” with various members of my family. I remember that all I wanted to do was spew spew spew to anyone who would listen. Being critical, judgmental and right is what was modeled in my family so I didn’t know any other way of being, even though I didn’t like being that way! I used to think there was something wrong with me because I hate conflict and tension and I tend not to know how to be a logical, critical (in a positive way) thinker.
Now I understand that it just doesn’t jive with who I am.
And in the process of writing this, I figured something out: in those years when I was spewing my venom, I was either afraid to be myself, or I didn’t know how. And so I punished myself with food.”
So the next piece of the puzzle is realizing that putting up and shutting up is not the opposite of spewing venom. It’s not being me. And it can have the same result: abusing myself with food. As I left that situation I stopped to get gas. I also got a bag of Cheez-Its and a bag of peanut butter M&Ms. I’m not even going to talk about being “good” and “bad” but suffice it to say that up until that moment, I had reached a very nice Zen place as it concerns food.
I knew as I was purchasing this stuff that I was doing it to both comfort and abuse myself. It wasn’t a mindless binge, something that I “woke up” from after the fact. I went into it with my eyes wide open. And I even remembered what I had written and figured “what the hell.”