I was feeling optimistic and like I had some new wind in my sails. I was feeling motivated after my 6-month check-in and was eager to continue on with the hard work and my updated goals. Then life happened.
I won’t bore you with the mundane details of my everyday life problems, but for the last two months I have felt like I could not catch a break. Whether it be an issue with my pets, car, family, apartment, appliances, etc. – whatever could go wrong, went wrong. Then we threw in the normal holiday stress and then I got sick with a virus…twice! I was all but ready to throw in the towel.
I was feeling helpless about my stress levels and total lack of control (reminder: control is my drug of choice). I was feeling reactive.
I want to expand more on what I mean by reactive. I don’t mean reactive in the sense that I was ready to go off on someone at any time (though there were moments of that–I’m looking at you car shop). I mean reactive in that I was constantly having to be on the defense and that instead of planning life, I was just reacting to whatever the next thing was. This, in a nutshell, is stress.
Initially I kept powering through, telling myself “I’m fine, it’s fine, everything is fine” (insert meme of cartoon dog burning in a fire). I reverted back to some old coping behaviors— numb out, be a martyr, push through, not check in on myself, not feel my feelings, and put myself back on autopilot. But now that things have smoothed out some, I have been trying to reflect on why it is so easy for me to fall back into this pattern despite so much work to not do so.
I say this next part with the caveat of I am in no way blaming my coping mechanisms on other people, but I would like to take into consideration how other people’s actions affect me: Whenever I am going through it or acting on autopilot, I am often greeted with the following statements: “I don’t know how you do it;” “you’re so independent;” “I love that I don’t have to worry about you;” “you’re so resilient.” Huge sigh – these comments, though coming from a genuine place, feed my bad behavior. This feels like the unspoken expectation that I am not allowed to have needs, I am not allowed to fall apart, and I better continue to have it together since that is what is expected of me.
It feels like a slammed door in my face when I confess everything that is going on in a last ditch effort to let people in, and to then be greeted with the resiliency badge.
I mention this not to put full responsibility on others to care for the people in their lives, but instead to give the gentle message to look out for the i.n.d.e.p.e.n.d.e.n.t. people. They not only need the help, but they need it the most (because they suck at asking for it). It took everything in me not to put quotation marks around the word strong, not because I’m not strong, but my urge is to downplay, to scoff and say that it’s all no biggie. It is the biggest biggie, or at least it is for me. I have to get better at not just asking for help, but first of all admitting that I do. I need to simply admit that things are crazy, I’m overwhelmed, and I don’t know what I need.
I am learning that it is okay to take up space and to let people listen to what is going on in my life without feeling like I’m a burden or bumming them out.
Life cannot be perfect all the time and the circumstances will not always be ideal when working towards your goals.
With the start of the new year, I had cute plans of doing a little gut reset, making a vision board, and having a peaceful and intentional start to 2024. In short, life just happens sometimes. So instead, I’ve spent most of 2024 hacking up a lung like a 2 pack-a-day smoker and those cute plans are just not it right now. Will I do my planned gut reset soon? Yes! Did I make a digital vision board instead of the hand crafted one I envisioned? Yes! Will I be having a peaceful and intentional start to 2024? Turns out we’re starting with the intention to create a peaceful 2024 but, yes!
A quote I often hear is “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” While I think it is great to strive for perfect execution of your goals, I am learning to remain flexible. Things will not go as planned, you may achieve the goal but not in the way you originally imagined, or you may even decide that you don’t want to reach that goal at all and go in a different direction. Whatever it may be – I want to learn to be less rigid and allow room for margins. Goals do not have to be accomplished immediately. As my health coach reminded me, take care of yourself in the midst of the chaos of life (especially during the chaos), and give yourself grace for handling everything the best you could at the time.
While my reactive state was thankfully temporary, it reminded me of how I have always treated my health: reactively. Health is wealth and I want to keep investing in it. I can’t help the circumstances of life and sometimes things are just out of our control. But what I know is that before all of this (this being my health journey) I would probably still be spiraling in the chaos. Instead this will be a blip on the map of life. And for that I am thankful.
Feelings this week: A little overwhelmed, a little raw, and very grateful to be breathing out of both nostrils again.
Favorite moment from experience: I had a dear friend tell me “you constantly show up and care for others, and we are all just looking for opportunities to do the same for you. Let us love you back, and stop robbing us of the joy of being able to show up for you.”
Something I am currently loving: drinking bone broth and making Starbucks “Medicine Balls” at home to sip on (IYKYK).