This morning I woke up at 4:45.
It’s been a weird week for sleep all together. And if you guys have been here for a while, you know how much I value my sleep.
I knew stuff was on my mind, and there’s been a lot going on, so it was hard to process all of it.
This morning, at 4:45, I realized it was time. So I sat there in bed, hugging a teddy bear (yes really), and I searched. Here is what I found:
- I miss Peter, and since we see each other a few times a month, I would venture to say I miss the deeper level of emotional intimacy we had.
- I feel lonely, and since I was with friends til 10 last night, I would venture to say I miss a deeper level of emotional connection with friends.
- I am scared of what’s to come, and since I have no idea what’s going to happen and no need to feign control over it, I would venture to say this is inevitable.
So, I miss being vulnerable and experiencing my vulnerability’s being met with empathy and kindness. And I am scared of the unknown.
With that awareness, I gave thanks for the wonderful things I had right at that moment (this is how I ground myself in the present now): a lovely shelter that I can afford and make my own, a job that pays me enough that means I only need to have one job, which means I have the time and money to afford my hobbies and therapy and other things I use to take care of myself.
I challenged myself to up the vulnerability with the people I trust to respond with empathy and kindness and reminded myself that I can always ask for the kind of response I need.
And I remembered to trust that I can find a way to be OK no matter what happens.
Which is what I want to focus on.
The shifts that have happened to me over the past years are strange and wonderful to think about.
My mother often tells me “I just need to know you’re ok.”
For years, no matter what, I would tell her I was. I could sense the urgency in her voice. The worry. I felt obligated to tell her I was fine to take a load off of her. I would always tell her I was OK, and then once in a while my feelings would come to a head, and explode, and I would call her in tears or in the midst of a panic attack or in explosive anger. My parents have honestly always been great in a crisis.
A year ago, I had had enough. I asked her to stop asking. I told her I wasn’t always going to be OK and that was life. I told her that years of feeling pressure to say I was OK meant I was suppressing my actual feelings. I was thoroughly and adamantly not OK. And I was stubbornly happy and smugly self-satisfied to stay that way.
Then a couple of weeks ago I read this article on Tiny Buddha.
And a new approach dawned on me. It’s true that life wouldn’t always be peachy, but could I believe that I would I find my way back to OK no matter what came up?
The answer is yes. And it’s astounding how a shift from “are you OK” to “will you find a way to be OK” makes a big difference. Because the latter is not loaded with pressure to just be, it speaks to a process. It speaks to working towards something, through something.
So no, I will not always be OK. Some things hurt – the death of a loved one, a break up, losing a friend, being unemployed. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that now–now that I know to face my feelings, now that I am developing a network of people I can talk to, now that I am developing self-compassion and empathy and gratitude–I will always find my way back to OK. It might take an hour, a day, a week, a month, but I know now that bad things, like good things, pass. And I’m learning to deal with that a little better every single day.