Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.
it's a quiet, productive tuesday afternoon here at la casa 161. my taxes are almost done (and it's my first year really having to pay them which means lots of deep breaths and trusting in my own prosperity) but other than that my body feels rested and calm. business feels good, my relationships are in order and i feel good about my place in the world. life is working well for me.
i was definitely not feeling this way two days ago.
what's changed? well, i had friends who came to visit. dear, beautiful friends who are living their lives fully and give me nothing but unconditional friendship and support. i was so excited to see them when they got in early thursday that i decided to skip my painting class and my morning writing and break my caffeine-fast and spend the morning breakfasting and catching up with them. it felt great at first. we were giggling and confiding and doing all that close friend stuff that i love. but by the end of the afternoon, i started getting these familiar creepy feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. in these past two years of giving myself fully to my dreams, i really haven't experienced too many extreme mood changes. life feels good and i take care of myself and that feeds on itself.
but this was not the case earlier on in my life, especially during my last year of peace corps. i think i've written about this before but it was a time when many of my comforts were falling away from that and i felt extremely raw. i desperately wanted out of my life, or rather i didn't want to have to do all the personal work that was needed to fix the beliefs, ideas that were causing me to suffer. these friends who were visiting were two of the people closest to me at the time and while i loved their support, i found myself envying the security of the lives and their confidence in living well. i don't consider myself a terribly jealous person but during this year i was. i coveted a different family, love life, peace corps town...pretty much everything. it was a really hard time.
as life works, i didn't get to change anything but rather i prayed and meditated and yogaed and found the strength to rebuild. it was a rocky first year+ back in the states but with my practices, i became grounded again. i can honestly say now that i am really content with my life. as you can read here on my blog, i feel like i have a lot to appreciate---work that i love, a great boyfriend, a supportive community and a housing situation that is effortlessly lovely.
which is why it surprised me so much when i started feeling this way again. i am laughing as i write this now, but i really did think that i was over feeling upset. i knew that life still entailed minor annoyances but i thought i had done my work and healed what needed to be healed. all this made me even more unprepared by how quickly i was thrown back into feeling so anti-me. i started to question everything about myself, especially the things in my life that really do sustain me. all of a sudden i felt way lame about going home early to get good sleep before teaching and anal about wanting to keep my room and my house clean.
worse, instead of accepting the fact that i was insecure and jealous, i kept trying to push it away and pretend like everything was fine. i wanted them to see that i was doing really well and not thrown back into past patterns. as a result, i went through the motions of being there but wasn't being myself and realizing that made me feel even more separate. as i have been learning recently from reading brene brown's amazing book about shame resilience, sharing our vulnerabilities are the key to connecting to the people around us. hiding doesn't get me anywhere but having to be alone with my fear.
so now enter amazing boyfriend adam. i had spent the whole weekend frustrated with him for not wanting to be more social (even though i totally didn't want to be social in those moments). he helped me to make the decision to go home early on saturday night and then helped me as i started to share with him and release all of the emotions i had been feeling from the weekend. i tearfully told him everything that i had been going through in my head and he sat with me and listened and asked questions and helped me to see the gifts that i bring to my friendships and to the world. he also helped me through sharing his own example of when he accepted that he likes going home early so he can get up and enjoy his mornings (something that i had been really hard on myself about).
when i woke the next morning, it felt better. i wrote, i meditated, i drank tea and felt even better. then by that night i was myself again. poof, it felt like i was magically i was put back together again.
i can't say that i totally understand what happened and why growth can have that funny spiraling effect where we are never fully free of our demons, but i can say that listening to buddhist teacher tara brach's message of radical acceptance really helped me to just be present with what i was feeling:
"Radical acceptance has two elements: It is an honest acknowledgment of what is going on inside you, and a courageous willingness to be with life in the present moment, just as it is. I sometimes simplify it to “recognizing” and “allowing.”
You can accept an experience without liking it. In fact, let’s say you are feeling stuck in anxiety and disliking the feeling. Radical Acceptance includes accepting both the feelings of anxiety and the aversion to it. In fact, acceptance is not real and not healing unless it honestly includes all aspects of your experience."
so it's tuesday, my tea cup of tea is now empty and i am deeply humbled by these past few days. i keeping want to prepare for the future, saying that in order to feel whole i must never skip writing or drink coffee, etc but honestly strategizing just feels like a waste of time. my logical brain's bag of tricks doesn't mean anything unless it includes an open heart to having a hard time. because i trust that as i continue to climb upward, i will dip down again and again and the best thing i can do to keep moving forward is just truly be present with the beautiful mess within me and trust that it's all an important part of the journey.