Sunday, November 5, 2017

Goodbye 36...

     On Tuesday, October 31st, I said, "Goodbye," to age 36. No big deal, age is all a state of mind and I really haven't been worried about getting older because it is a gift, only granted to few. What I did feel, however, was a sense of sadness having realized that all year when asked how old I was, I would say, "I'm going to be 37 on Halloween." In my mind I was set on 37 and I was not present in my 36th year of life. This year hasn't been an easy year and the struggles have been internal and complicated. My emotional journey is far from over and yet I know I'll be better for everything this year has handed me. Still, how sad to sort of glide from 36 to 37 without any intent. I feel that each year, we should relish in all the days. We should feel their essence and not just get "stuck on survive" (a phrase made famous by Jewel), but we should find brilliance in every single second. 

    I have issues, I have struggles - no more and no less than everybody else's, but this past year I finally realized that I have completely tuned out my inner voice and replaced it with so many other voices that weren't serving me, but continuously breaking me down. I see that I have allowed this to go on for years and years and years... When all you hear in your mind is negativity, it's hard to give love to yourself or to see yourself in a positive light. It gets dark in that space and every single decision is scrutinized by nobody and yet everybody whom your mind wants you to believe would have something negative to say about your choices. It's all in the mind; some of it is valid and true, but most of these voices are projections on what you feel about yourself. Your mind gives them the voice of someone who has been vocal in scrutinizing you in the past, but the present dialogue is not even real. 

   How do you get out of a negative mind? The first step is to be honest about it. "The truth shall set you free" - The Bible, John 8:32. (Side note: I never knew that came out of The Bible, did you?) The truth is tricky though. Your truth is valid, but another person who lived some of the same life events as you, but has a different truth is also valid. There is no RIGHT. RIGHT = EGO. EGO has no place in a kind life. As soon as you feel superior or need to be right at all costs, you are not living a kind life. Your narcissism has taken hold and there will be no outcome where you are able to be truly compassionate, empathetic or selfless. Still, what you know to be the truth for you is valid, but that's where you must let it end. You don't need to be right or make everyone believe your truth.  Everyone has the right to their own truth. Just because it doesn't mirror your truth doesn't make it a lie. We all have our perspectives and everything we bring to the table based on our experiences. IT IS ALL VALID! 

   Offering up your truth isn't always easy, but you should share how you feel and why you're feeling the way you feel, when you feel it. Masking it or sweeping pains under the rug only cause horrible cycles of more self-loathing. You may think you're protecting yourself or you're keeping the peace, yet in actuality, you're not authentic and your pain will bubble up to the surface at some point. There is no way around that. So, when you feel something, don't "walk on eggshells," or "sweep it under the rug," tell the person who needs to know, but for heaven's sake BE KIND about it. When you scream or yell or voice opinion, attaching labels to a person or calling them this or that, it does no good AT ALL. We all deserve respect, no matter if your truth isn't aligning with that person's truth. There are ways to be KIND about EVERY SINGLE THING in this world! Meanness NEVER is the answer. TOUGH LOVE is something made up by those who need an excuse to be cruel. EVERYTHING CAN BE DONE IN LOVE AND KINDNESS - EVERYTHING. No excuses. 

   My year has held some deep wounds. Some wounds that I didn't even realize (till recently) are living so deeply within me. January 2017 was where it began to get really hard for me mentally and emotionally. This was when someone I loved and admired very much, took their own life. For them to feel that alone just hurt so badly and I haven't been able to really get over that, but I don't think I ever will or that I'm supposed to. It is awful, but on the flip side of the coin, it is an important lesson to learn that you don't know anything by looking at a person's surface. You can see a sunny exterior and a heart full of gold on the outside, but that doesn't mean ANYTHING. The rest of this year has held many reminders of this man and a realization that he has touched my life and so many, many more lives forever. How we take people for granted... At parties, at holidays, at anything including him - he was the man. He was the guy attending to everyone as well as cracking jokes and making each and every person feel the love. He's so missed. Nothing will ever be the same again.  

   This year also held some very serious fears and anxiety for me. From April through August, I would wake up quickly out of a dead sleep with panic and just start crying at the realization that eventually all the people I know, all the places and things that I love, everything will be gone someday. I would be sweating or couldn't breathe at the thought of death at 3am and Paul would hug me and rock me and tell me it was okay. He’d tell me to breathe and then I’d cry myself to sleep and be okay. It’s a crazy fear to have since we have no choice in the matter. It’s not like the fear of jumping out of an airplane where you can just choose not to get on the airplane or choose not to hurl yourself into the sky. When it comes to death, it’s inevitable.  I feel a little bit out of the woods with that fear (though it’s reoccurred in my life since I was 4 or 5 years old), but now I have anxiety to deal with. 

    My anxiety is usually fueled by feeling stuck. So, when I’m in a meeting where the doors are closed or even if the doors are open, but I’m seated so far into the room that I feel stuck, I have a “fight or flight” response. After about 10 minutes, I feel like I just need to get out of there. Of course, I’m not going to "fight" anyone, but my brain screams "DANGER. DANGER. DANGER." I feel like I’m in a life or death situation and it’s only a training or a meeting. I don’t feel anxiety for the normal reasons at all. I’m not ill prepared nor do I fear being called on to speak to the group. I actually prefer to talk in these situations. Only I need to talk through the whole situation. When I’m talking, my brain doesn’t have a chance to freak out. I’m engaged, and I feel okay. Unfortunately, the moment that someone else takes the conversation, I tense up, I get clammy hands and my brain tells me to “GET OUT!” This happens sometimes in casual situations as well. Standing in a coworker’s office or having someone stop me in the hallway. If I feel that I am stuck in any slight way, I can panic.
    Sometimes though, I am completely fine. Sitting with the department head in an impromptu meeting in her closed office, I had no feelings of fleeing. I was talking about 65% of the time, but just being in that room alone would normally shake me and I was okay. I was explaining my anxiety to her and so perhaps talking about the anxiety helps calm the anxiety? Who knows. I explained that my anxiety is not about my doubt in my job performance or my fear of public speaking, but that it is irrational. 100% irrational. It is about the way the room or environment makes me feel. I can’t control it, but I’m learning techniques to help deal with it. Breathing, meditating and being true to myself are all things that are key to my well-being.  Also, stress is a huge factor.

     I decided to take a demotion from my Supervisor position to return to my Administrative Assistant status. Since it has been officially announced, a big weight has already been lifted off my shoulders. I think it was a wise choice to step back and free up some of my mind to be able to focus on my health and well-being. Personnel issues = people issues, and this girl just can't turn off the caring switch. I was taking everything home with me. Hopefully now, I can just go to work and come home and focus on getting well. Time will tell... Many people were shocked, and I heard things like: "You're gonna give up all that extra money?" or "You worked so hard to get that title." or "Just try and push through it."  They all mean well, and I so appreciate their vote of confidence in me. It is so sweet, but nothing is worth my well-being and I'm finally learning how to listen to my inner voice. Yes, the inner voice that has been trying to be heard through all the lies my mind was feeding me. I hear you! I am listening! 

   I'm all over the place here, (as per usual) but I'll wrap up here and hopefully get my few points across. The first being, enjoy each moment. Don’t let a year go by with your focus set on the next year instead of enjoying your present year. Take time to write, self-assess and come to terms with who you are in each phase of your life.   The second point, own who you are in each phase of your life, value it and don’t let it go no matter what is said, thought or shown by other people. Every bit of you is valid. Every bit of everyone else is valid. The third point is BE KIND! If someone strays from the path of which you think it is right, it is NOT your job to judge them, but it is your job to allow them validity. And if there’s something that really goes against your grain, you can engage in conversation, but let that conversation be a flow of communication back and forth. Hear them if you expect to be heard. Always choose kindness... Words are very powerful weapons and though we have the choice of what loop we play over and over in our head, sometimes we don't realize we've allowed our mind to sneak another person's record under the needle. Lead with kindness, know you’re valid and that everyone is valid and stop the cycle of negative projections in your mind. You are the narrator, keep hold of your story…