The last entry in my gratitude journal on 06/04 says “I’m grateful that this day is over.”
Seven words written…so many more unspoken.
The last 6 weeks are a blur of survival. And when I say survival I mean mental, emotional, and spiritual survival. I didn’t intend for these weeks to be this way but somehow I let it happen. I know the starting point…I know the choices along the way…and I know the moment I lifted my eyes and saw the truth.
Six weeks ago last Friday I was asked to help with a project that would both energize me and separate me from my peers. I took on the project with a huge helping of *desire to please* and a large side dish of *self-doubt*. This particular combo should have been RED FLAG #1. It is rare that I go into anything with this particular cocktail of self-destruction any more but I raced in without even pausing to listen to my intuition which was screaming for me to PAY ATTENTION.
The request was fair. And the task was big. The team I joined has been a huge blessing and I’ve build significant relationships. Also I was the RIGHT person to be asked to do this…not only in terms of availability but in terms of skill, attitude, & open-mindedness.
However the flip side of those facts is that I know better than to do something so critical in such a blind manner. My desire to please and to use this situation to stir up my dissatisfaction at work was a dangerous combination. It meant that I handed over ownership of my days and nights to others…although I would have said I was doing it willfully and for “only a couple weeks”…and was willing to forego sleep, exercise, connection with my friends, and all spiritual practices in exchange for the sudden connection of working with such great people on something so important. LAME! Super super LAME! This is me at 24…NOT me at 37.
Add to that mix a visit with my family. In many ways the trip was successful. In the one way that counts it was dangerous to the state of my soul.
In my effort to prepare the fortress around my heart for what comes with time with my family, I slid backwards into a place of introversion and self-protection. Don’t get me wrong. That fortress is a shield provided by Jesus himself many many scary years ago in the dark of the night. And it is a safe haven in times when I don’t have enough strength within me for survival.
But once I go into the fortress…the climb out is often treacherous, heart-wrenching, and touch-and-go.
Excess work hours…we’re talking 14 to 16 hour days 6 days a week working into the wee hours and then getting a couple hours of sleep before starting over again.
Excess alcohol…I drink socially. And when you are pulling days like I describe above, alcohol with the team is part of the package. It builds bonds but it is wearing on someone who typically drinks a couple nights a week.
Excess food…I went from taking my lunch and keeping a food journal to eating out at every single meal. I didn’t gain weight (praise the name of Jesus) but I didn’t make choices that my body was responding to with love.
Excess connection…too much time with the same people. Hear me…I LOVE and TRUST this team. They’ve become dear to me in so many ways. They are my friends. My Seattle work family. And yet…too much time with any group of people makes an empath like me ride THEIR emotions as easily as mine. When I should have gone home…I stayed out with the team. Too many months bereft of good connection and feeling important to others, made me hungry to be with them and vulnerable to their exhaustion and moods.
+ Tuning Out
I’ll save you the gory details…but basically I met a man that I liked. There was good chemistry. Wait…let me rephrase. There was chemistry the night we met. From that point on there was a need. A need on my part to want it to turn into something. I wanted a friend. A connection. And let’s be honest…it’s been a damn long time and my hormones were running on high alert to the nearness of a man in a nice shirt who smelled good.
As he was hot and cold…I was hot and hurt.
And I lost the connection to the sound of my own voice. For a couple weeks…while in the midst of all this other craziness…I lost the reception between my head and my heart. It got bad enough that I had to ask my friends if I was crazy to be annoyed by someone who by the fourth date was sleeping on my couch like we were an old married couple? Seriously??? Me??? Leah of the hot, passionate, go-for-the-guy-you-want, settle for nothing less that sizzle relationships was like “Wait…is it weird that he fell asleep after the game when I was basically offering to be all over him?” (BTW–Thanks Tyler, Linda, and Jelisa for confirmation that I’m not crazy!)
Let me add…this is a decent man. A kind, handsome, funny man. But I know better. I know when something isn’t working. I should have pulled back and said “Let’s look at this thing”. I should have heard my gut saying “The chemistry is OFF…way OFF.” I should have said something instead of offering a chilly kiss on the cheek and a “see ya” to a guy that I think I could be friends with in other circumstances.
Instead…I was just pissed. And pissed off in addition to all the other stuff…bad news. (Can you say…dangerous cycle of excess?)
I thrive on meaning.
This 6 weeks had moments of excellence, connection, and laughter…mingled with deep lows, tears, and emotional self-abasement.
Turns out (and yes…I’ve already learned this lesson SEVERAL times in my career) that killing yourself to prove you are good enough actually usually just results in kick-ass work that goes unappreciated by everyone except those who ALREADY appreciated you.
And it turns out that not taking time for (1) Yoga, (2) Meditation, (3) Reading, (4) Writing, (5) Gratitude Journalling, (6) Sleep, (7) Reflection, or (8) Mindfulness makes me a really really unhappy person who lacks deep meaning and joy.
Big shocker? Nope.
I’m able to share this with you because I woke up on Friday with a headache, feeling bloated, an ache in my knee (which happens when I don’t get enough yoga), and a deep feeling of hurt and disconnection. I opened my eyes, ran each hand over the back of a kitty waiting for breakfast, and said aloud “Enough.”
Enough means sufficient, adequate, ample, or satisfactory.
Enough waking up in a state of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain or numbness.
Enough waiting for someone to be grateful for my hard work. I know I’m damn good at my job. Better than most. And I’ll be grateful for my efforts and joyfully accept the gratitude of my team. Full stop.
Enough of not listening to my intuition, needs, or desires.
Enough of setting aside my voice in order to be the pen for everyone else.
Enough, sufficient, adequate, ample, satisfactory.
Then God speaks…
Today I read the and realized why “enough” was the word the Divine Lady gave me:
“We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough–ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We got to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack…What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for the unfulfilled life.
We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.
Sufficiency resides inside each of us, and we can call it forward.”
–Lynne Twist in “The Soul of Money” as quotes by Dr. Brene Brown in “The Gifts of Imperfection”