Monday, January 25, 2010

Days 23-25: Hiding from Life

This week has been difficult in many ways, not the least of which has been dealing with my near constant melancholy. Real change is hard work sometimes. I have to keep reminding myself of this one seemingly insignificant truth. Why would I suggest it's insignificant? Well, everyone knows that change requires some sort of sacrifice, no matter how small; most of the sacrifices we make are, indeed, small. And work is something we all do - even people who are ridiculously blessed financially have to work a little to maintain that wealth... they even have to work at playing. Serious, lasting, deep-seated change, an absolutely unmistakable shift in paradigm, however, requires a stranger, bleaker sacrifice - the sacrifice of safe habits, regardless of how destructive they truly are.

Take procrastination. Don't you remember putting off writing at least one paper in high school? Maybe you liked to party, or you just didn't have a good idea to write about, or you were a slave to perfection, or you thought you'd work better under pressure, or [insert your favorite reason here], but whatever the reason you just waited until the very last minute to even start that stupid five paragraph essay. Procrastination as a once in awhile escape tactic is no big deal - most people learn a lesson and try a little harder to avoid the unnecessary pain procrastination naturally brings. Not me. No. Being the perfectionist I am, I have been working on procrastination techniques for more than half my life and am pretty darned good at it. Too good. I often find myself longing for more time, a time when I won't be interrupted, a time when I can really focus, a time when I'll feel enthused about a project (isn't paying bills fun?), a time that just isn't now. Procrastination is expensive - late fees, disappointed family and friends, a disappointed self, missed opportunities, etc. Why bring that on? (Because it's familiar, it's a habit.)

A host of other bad habits rooted in pride, vanity, and even despair make similar case studies. If you feel brave, try looking at why you do some of the destructive things in your life. Some things don't seem destructive, until you see their true motivation. It's earth shaking... and rather horrifying. The truly horrifying part, though, for me at least, is that this process is necessary to find out what I'm really worth.

I'm still struggling with the same question I had last week. It's hard to think objectively about worth because I am beginning to more clearly see just how much less than plain, average, ordinary, and extremely lost I've allowed myself to become. It hit me like a ton of bricks, the realization that I rarely listen to music anymore (and never when alone... well... except sometimes when driving when I can't bear to think), that I wasn't reading anymore (and you know I've been working on that), that the most recent few years have been spent in some form of auto-pilot just trying to survive. Wow. That sounds wretched, doesn't it? (I should clarify here: there are many good things in my life! Things that I am truly happy about. People I am truly happy to be with, most especially my husband and children - they are a physical lifeline, full of joy and energy.) I mean that I have somehow gotten so good at shoving my needs aside to serve my family that I have gone too far - rather than put a desire on the backburner where I can still see it simmering, I've put it in the deep freeze and completely ignored it. Let me assure you, this is not the kind of self-sacrifice serving one's family is supposed to be - no, it's more a form of self-torture. How does it serve my family to sacrifice who I am? What on this earth is there left for me to actually give them if I deny even a single part of what makes me me?

So these bad habits, even the ones enshrouded by good intentions, are really serving to destroy the essence of who I am and, in turn, my family. Somehow I have to find a way back to me, the real me. It's been so easy to hide in them... until now. This idea we had to find our worth has suddenly shifted into a much higher gear for me - I had no idea just how lost my worth actually is at this moment. I do know I am worth facing this recovery effort.

I am scared spitless at how this is going to shape out. Oh, I certainly do not worry about my marriage or my relationships with my children - my family is one of the most solid, intact pieces of this puzzle. I am afraid of making waves, of making life more difficult for myself and for them. I'm going to have to cut out some very painful thorns, possibly even discover that choices I've made and situations that now exist - things I didn't realize were thorns - are actually hurting me. I'm going to have to allow change to happen.

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