You can use whatever term you want: besetting sin, shadow side, strength and weakness. the very thing that makes you “YOU”, that makes you great, that makes you different from everyone else is also the thing that, unchecked, will ruin you. For me, its lust for life, its energy, curiosity, hunger. These are my drugs. If I’m honest with myself, I over compensate for my absences by trying to make my home time spectacular. Look, I didn’t miss a beat! Look, you’ve got everything you need and then some. Look, you didn’t even notice I was gone, what with perfectly folded clothes, and perfectly washed fruit and perfectly planned activities. I hate being gone from my husband, fur children and home, so I make sure when I’m home, I’m SUPER-home, lots of homemade meals and clean closets, as emphatically “home” as possible. So, on the very few Saturdays I have off-and-home, I putz around the house. Cleaning up from a dinner party the night before, “attempting” yoga on the back patio which lets face it, my mind wont quiet down enough for a moment to even stay balanced. I dart out to the farmers market, starting a load of laundry on my way out the door, think about the gym on three different occasions on my 5 minute drive then decide I dont have “time” all to run out of “time” when I get back home to flight plan and check the weather for that afternoons short journey for work. (oh yeah did I say my day off on Saturday? I meant morning, my morning off). This is what I call fake-resting. I did it all in yoga pants and an oversized sweater, high messy bun and forget about the makeup. Give me a starbucks and a puppy in my purse and I have transformed into a basic-chick. Some might say this is being a wife, or a homemaker, or this is what women have been doing for generations: tending to the home-stuff while men and kids go about their leisure on their “days-off”. Maybe so, but this woman and wife is exhausted. Part of being an adult is taking responsibility for resting your body and your soul. and part of being an adult is learning to meet your own needs, because when it comes down to it, with a few exceptions, no one else is going to do it for you.
I recently had a discussion with a gal-pal about how deeply invested we both are in people thinking we are low-maintenance. we both want to be seen as flexible, tough, roll-with-anything kind of women. and this keeps us from asking for what we need, for fear of being labeled difficult or high-maintenance. but what good is it doing me to have people think I’m laid back and flexible, when really that cherished rep keeps me tangled up, needs unmet and my voice silenced? I have a group of girls that, even though we don’t see each other but a few times a year (if were lucky) including the one that lives close and I still don’t get to see enough, I lean on heavily, each one of them runs on the notion of; “if I push enough, I will feel hole, I will feel proud, I will feel happy.” I see these wonderful women accomplish tremendous mountains (win any decathlons lately? or push to launch your own skin care line perhaps? take on elite horse riding?) but who told us that keeping everything organized would deliver happiness? what a weird prescription for happiness. why do we think managing our possessions is a meaningful way of spending our time off? And I know that activity, any activity, keeps me from feeling, so that becomes a drug too.
All this being said to finally come to the mainframe of my topic, the heart, the cavernous ache; Am I loved? Does someone see me? Do I matter? Am I safe? These questions not to be confused with feelings of love and safety provided by a spouse, family or friends, but from a primal internal self-need. I have answered these questions with theological abstractions, and then filled up any remaining uncertainty with noise and motion and experiences. In my teens and early twenties, this was 4 jobs and 18 credit hours per semester of classes, tending to an alcoholic relationship and all manners of adventure. And then somewhere along the way, that frantic energy translated itself into a career with NO schedule and NO days off. I learned a long time ago that if i hustle fast enough, the emptiness will never catch up with me. first I outran it by traveling, painting, extreme sports, guitar lessons, coaching, cheering, rowing…then I outran it by taking on client after client, plane after plane, problem after problem. My motto at work is “I will make it happen”. lots and lots of YES’s. Now I outrun it by running laps around my house on my pretend days off. You can make a drug – a way to anesthetize yourself – out of anything: working out, binge-watching tv, working, having sex, shopping, volunteering, cleaning, dieting. Any of those things can keep you from feeling pain for a while – thats what drugs do. And, used like a drug, over time, shopping or TV or work or whatever, will make you less and less able to connect to the things that matter, like your own heart and the people you love. Thats another thing drugs do: they isolate you. Most of us have a handful of these drugs, and its terrifying to think of living without them. It is terrifying: wildly unprotected, vulnerable, staring our wounds right in the face. But this is where we grow, where we learn, where our lives actually begin to change. My goal is very simple. I just need to be. Just be. For 10 minutes a day, I want to exist. And nothing more.
***These thoughts were greatly derived from “Present Over Perfect”.