Sunday, July 17, 2016

Of Course I Can

Since I was in high school, I've been a morning person.  In my 20's, I developed the habit of getting out of bed very early to fit important but easy-to-skip things into my morning, before heading to work.  For years, even decades, I got up at 4:30 AM so I could work out and write before launching my work day.  I lost some of that habit when I had a job that required me to get out of bed for on-call responsibilities, or when I was a caregiver. But those things have changed, and still I struggle to get out of bed some mornings. I've lost the rhythm in my days, and I miss it.

Here's the thing--I'm stubborn. And that means I'm just as stubborn when I'm sure I've failed as I am when I believe in myself. Here's another thing--I'm tough to discourage, but it can be done. And, lastly, like a lot of the most results-driven people I know, one of the worst things to hear or know is that I've disappointed someone.  I'll dive across pavement to avoid disappointing someone I care about.  I'll work myself stupid to avoid failure of my team.

This is not news. I've been this way since I was a little girl. I've gotten myself into unhealthy situations on any number of occasions because of this. Tell me I'm wrong or I screwed up and I'll debate you.  Tell me I disappointed you and I fold.  This is a good thing to know if you're in my inner circle and you want to quickly win a conflict with me.  (Ha!)

I've been thinking about this quite a lot lately, especially as it relates to changing parts of my life that I want to change.  It seems this is all tangled up with my ongoing (and now life-long) struggle with my weight.  It seems it is all tangled up with my ongoing struggle to balance work and life.  It is all tangled up with my inability to satisfy my need for time and mental space to write, and read, and create.  This is maybe "interesting" behavior, if you're a person studying behavior.  But if you're a person who wants what's best for me, or if you read this and commiserate, and you're trying to stop talking about these things and get doing/finding/achieving them, it's a baaaaad deal.

In the last two years, I've had a series of disappointments. A shuffle at work prevented me from finishing something I'd started and very much wanted to finish. My whole team was laid off, including me. I gained a lot of weight, and that has been a disappointment to me and to some others. My writing habits, and my reading habits, are abysmal. And I've had some wins, too--I found a great new job doing something that matters for someone I believe in. I handled all of that corporate work junk with grace. But there have been two times in the last two weeks where I had flashbulb moments of realizing that despite my wins, I was disappointed in me. And in those situations, the shock I felt was the realization that I had simply folded. I had given up, walked off. When I scold myself and berate myself and beat myself up, I never come out of that with a big motivation to never do again. Nope, I just feel like hell. Which is not very helpful in finding energy to regroup, to change course.

I lost my faith and my certainty that I could be a writer, a fit person, and an effective leader in a chaotic job all at the same time. Whew. That's pretty hard to admit.  So, y'all, of course I can be. I've done all of this in the past, sometimes while also being a caregiver. I'm going dust myself off and get back to it.

I can't change what I feel, but I can change what I do.

When people make me feel I've disappointed them, I'm going to try to call them on it. I'm also going to try to call me on it, because sometimes that is not at all what they intended and it's that anxious little voice in my head getting in my way. When I hear that little voice in my head beating me up, I'm going to try to silence that bullying biatch.  It will be difficult. The voice in my head knows all my soft spots. She aims flying jujitsu kicks at all my most tender places.  She nods with a smug look when I feel self-doubt. You probably have one of these voices, too. 

And, lastly, I'm going to do the thing I always advise others to do--try every day to see yourself through the eyes of those people you know love you most purely, who see your flaws, your strength, beauty, and your worth every single second.

Here we go, one more time, with feeling.  Let's do this.

Best to all who happen this way!