Sometimes my insecurity overcomes me and I wonder what I have to offer. I can usually work my way around that thought because I do in fact have a lot to offer. I have some very important skills of empathy and knowledge that I have developed because of what I have been through in my life.
At one low point however my husband read something to me that reinforced how I have been feeling lately and in a way it was also very empowering. He read this quote by Martin Prechtel from The Smell of Rain on Dust:
“Those who lose what they cherish most, whether they are warriors or housewives, must become our blessers. This means we must seek them out and kindly petition them for their blessings. It has always been that way in village life the world over. But this has been lost. We must relearn how to be blessed by those have lost the most, for their blessing really are the best kind. That means we might have to respectfully approach people we’ve been mistakenly warned to stay away from. Not accepting the blessing of those who have fought and lost, loved and lost- those who have lost a lot and then taken the courage to again learn to live- is the same as endorsing war as a good way to forget to whom and what we owe the blessings of being alive in the first place.” (p. 101-102)l
Now, when I think about what I have to offer I think about what I have been through, lived through, and learned from as the gift that I have to offer to others. I am learning to embrace all that I am and all that I have to offer, finally.
Now that I have finished with school it is time to figure out how I will pay back my student loans. I have been offered a job where I have been doing my internship. However, I am uncertain as to whether this will be a good fit. I have spent the last 11 1/2 months working somewhere while trying very hard to work within my limitations and not look like i have limitations. This has involved hiding in the bathroom and doing deep intentional breathing and simply smiling through the day regardless. It also involves trying to come down from a days worth of anxiety attacks that I have hidden deep down.
I finally lost it a few weeks ago and made some of my unhappiness known. There had been several ongoing things that simply made me feel not very valued. And they had never been addressed regardless of my hints. Apparently I needed to have a meltdown and spend my lunch hour crying in my car for anything to happen. And now with just 3 weeks of my internship left things are finally being addressed.
As I listened to people’s apologies I tried to follow my wise sister’s advice and look for sincerity. There was sincerity with many of those that have tried to make things right. I have yet to meet with one of those people who have inadvertently made it a hard internship. But I don’t think there will be a problem. They really want me to work there.
The real problem is that I have struggled for nearly a year and it gets harder and harder to get out of bed and go to the internship site and I am not sure this is where I can work. It is not because, or at least not only because, of the difficult time I have had. I have made it through because I have seen an end. There is a definitive time when this internship will end. I do not know if I can work somewhere full time where I cannot shave the corners to make my oddly shaped peg fit.
Making things fit my needs so that I can function in the world is something that I have become very good at. I have a safety list for things that I need to do that I struggle with. And protocols that make it possible for me to feel safe. Since feeling safe is something I did not have until as an adult I found ways to make it happen I am very aware of when I do not feel safe. For example: My tire went flat. I changed it and we got it fixed. However now I feel unsafe driving. I check my tires every time I get in the car or get out. At some point I will regain that safe feeling. It takes time.
Generally I learn from things that happen. I overreact to things and I see by the expression of those around me or from my own processing that what I did was an overreaction. I then learn how to react appropriately. It is always a learning experience. New experiences throw me for a loop. I know that this is normal. But I do not think it is normal to break out in a rash and not breathe as well as having your ulcer flair up when you have to fill out new forms. Once I do it however I know how to do it and the reaction is not the same.
What I am faced with now is how do I get my needs met, shave the hole to fit my peg and fit the needs of an employer? I am still looking for opportunities and also looking for ways to create opportunities. I just hope that through all this I can find a way to not hide my limitations but to make my experience something of value. Because I know that I have a lot to offer that is of value. I simply need to find a way to make a square peg fit in a round hole.
One should never underestimate the importance of self care. Those words make a very important statement. It is something that I have been failing to do for some months now. I have not taken time to do things that are healing or nurturing for myself in a very long time. As result I have slowly stopped being there for people.
In my internship I show up and I am actually the most present with people that I am anywhere. But home life and personal life have been in a fog. I have dreaded getting up in the morning. And I have struggled to try to find some joy in the world. Things have been bleak. The funny thing is that I have also been thinking that it was not very obvious to others. My family however have been very much aware of how I have been unavailable.
Letting my self get into this state has also opened up old trauma wounds and anxiety. The anxiety attacks seem to get stronger and more frequent the less self-care I do.
Things are doing better. I have started to remind myself to stop and enjoy small things. Starting the process of self care with small things is important. Otherwise the act of caring for yourself becomes almost a herculean task. Little steps do the most. Recently I was told that I needed to take small things that give me joy and do them until they are large parts of my life.
I have been taking more time to spend with my children. I have been giving and receiving longer and more meaningful hugs. I have been petting and talking to my dog ( who has also felt my distance from others). Listening to music that makes me dance. I have been coloring in an amazingly detailed coloring book. And eating with more meaning and not just trying to fill some unattainable need. I have also begun to realize that I have a deep need to keep doing this. I am feeling the stirrings of peacefulness again.
So, today’s goal is to enjoy the day, the people I am with, and the time I can spend with my family.
Back to acceptance. When I wrote about having compassion for ourselves and who we were it was important at that time to me. Yet with equal importance is acceptance. Something that I don’t always do. I think that accepting myself is different from having compassion. But not by much.
I was recently looking at pictures of myself and I was not very happy. It wasn’t my weight or the fact that I have these lovely white highlights in my hair. I really like the way my hair is changing. It was just looking at myself and not accepting that that was me.
It falls back to what we hear and what we believe when we are growing up. I grew up feeling like I was the ugly duckling and that maybe someday I would find where I belonged. But I never did. Because I wasn’t the ugly duckling. But I never accepted myself either. There were times when I would look in the mirror and see a reflection of someone I did not want to see. And I think that was part of it.
I never looked in the mirror and saw myself. I always saw a reflection of the trauma that I lived through. And therefore, I never wanted to accept myself.But now I want to learn to love who I am and that will require accepting who I am and what I look like. And no amount of plastic surgery, or makeovers is going to help with that. Because who I am is on the inside. It reflects out to me in the mirror. I would like to spend a day seeing myself through the eyes of someone else. But that is not possible.
I have decided to keep a mirror around more. Currently there is one mirror and I avoid it. To actually look at myself and see myself. Not just the picture of me I carry around in my mind but who I am, really. And maybe if I start to see myself I can learn to accept myself, have compassion with myself and learn to love myself.
Everyday we look at ourselves in the mirror and make a decision. Do we like ourselves or not. That decision plays a big part in how our day goes. We don’t even consciously make this decision. We just do it.
The big picture is compassion. It is the proverbial air mask. Have compassion for yourself and you can give more compassion to others.
I have a set amount of compassion that I start the day with. And if I am not refilling it by being compassionate to myself and allowing others to have compassion for me, I dry up and become even more of a grouch than I can be. That means that I forgive myself for being stupid and forgetting something. I don’t knock myself out about it all day. Then when someone needs me to have compassion for their frailties. I can give it to them. This is not just something that I have done forever. This is something that I struggle with everyday. I am not perfect. Even though I want to be and want everything I do to be perfect. Which in the long run is not very self-compassionate.
I am also learning to just accept my faults and my idiosyncrasies as they are. I may never actually grow up and that is fine. I have grown up friends. Whom I adore. I just can never be like them. And no matter how much I want my birthday dinner party to be grown up and elegant I would probably still sit at the kids table so I may as well just dispense with the grown up table completely. And just go with the rubber ducky themed fiftieth birthday party. Next year I’ll try grown up. And that is fine. I can be good with who I am. I say this after trying to convince myself to be someone I am not. Which is not a very compassionate thing to do.
So, going into a time of year where people tend to not treat themselves very well. And have very little compassion for themselves and whether they got the right present for someone. It is time to accept that we are who we are. All the warts and all. And that is a wonderful thing. Because there is only one of me. A very precious thing. And only one you. An immensely precious thing. So treat yourself with love and compassion. Because we are all who we are, amazing beings in a world of possibility.