It can be so easy to assume that we are the only ones struggling, the only ones who are trying to carve out a space for ourselves and then being met with challenges.
While the voices that tell us that we are alone/the only one might not be the same as those that directly criticize us for not doing/being/having more, I think it all comes from the same place. At the end of the day, the internalized messages that we are not doing/being/having more are about separation–separating ourselves from others–and the messages about being alone, that other people’s outsides are an accurate reflection of their insides, are also about separation.
Recently, I had a rough day. It had been a rough couple of days, compounded in part because I’d thrown out my neck the week before and it kept aching and spasming and I was not really sure what was wrong or why it was not responding to ice, heat, aleve, etc. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled but couldn’t get in until Thursday. Then I had a phone call that left me feeling drained and depleted and sad, and I noticed that the old story of not-enoughness was starting to play in my head.
I decided to get out of the house.
It was then that I toddled into a nearby Paper Source and spied a package of self-adhesive mustaches. Here is how The Brain reacted:
That would be fun.
You can’t get those.
What would be the point.
Waste of money.
But wouldn’t it be hilarious?
What if you bought them?
What if you walked around in them while you were still at the shops?
You so have to do this.
You’ll feel like a total fool.
That’s not true–you actually don’t give a shit. It would just be silly to wear a mustache. Do it!
— And with that, a smile crossed my lips and I knew that I was on to something. I bought them and tried on the first, The Hollywood. I liked it. I hopped into my car and drove down the highway heading back home, and was laughing the whole time, feeling more rested and restored.
All of it practice–practice in noticing what I needed in a given moment. Practice in seeing resistance to that crop up and practice in diving in. I simply could not take myself seriously any longer.
The resistance that crops up for us in these moments is the most pernicious of all–that to forcibly make myself do something other than wallow would mean I’m being “fake,” or that it’s “fake” to embrace happiness in this way.
I try to just notice how that is another piece of separation, and that when I’m choosing to step into something, it usually doesn’t feel good right away. At first, it usually feels forced until I find my rhythm with it.
What’s powerful is when we make a choice to change what we’re doing, anyway–despite the heaviness of that voice.
It’s a fine line–someone could just as easily read this post and accuse me of trying to push people to not be where they’re at–but that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m getting at an experience of noticing where we’re at, being in it for awhile, accepting it, even embracing it, and then noticing when the conditions seem right to release that and let go.
Can you give that gift to yourself?
After all, if it’s truly not yet time to let go, it won’t release.
We can all lighten up just a bit. We needn’t take all of this so seriously. There are bad days to be had, and for every one of them, there’s an adhesive moustache right around the corner.