Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: hand wash cold

I Am Not the Voice

I’ve come to understand that all the chatter inside my head is not useful.

A few years ago, when I first started therapy, I had a breakthrough. I was panicking about my to-do list, about how I’d power through the beginning of a week, running on the reserve of energy I gathered over the weekend, and experience this intense despair by Wednesday evening.

My therapist suggested that I was setting this unreachable bar for myself. No one else was asking these things of me. That it was completely unfair because even though I would reach my mark, completing my to-do list, it would never be enough. My mind would turn right around and find the next thing to obsess about accomplishing.

If I sound dramatic, it’s because I am was.

My therapist said that instead of becoming more efficient / effective / productive, I needed to learn to deal with the anxiety of not accomplishing things. Because that is the actual state of our days – things need doing, things get done, and we start again. There will never be a day that everything is Done.

When I read Hand Wash Cold it reiterated this idea. That I am here to do (and not freak out about) things like laundry, paying bills, and kissing my husband. That these daily tasks were a path into self-awareness and a type of enlightenment. Very much the basis of the human experience. To love, to be.

That was a light-bulb moment.

Then I found Byron Katie and her ideas of questioning our thoughts. That when we attach to, and believe, our thoughts, we bring ourselves into chaos. That negative feelings are a reflection of our mind believing thoughts that do not line-up with reality. She’s created something called The Work, which allows people to question and reconcile their thoughts with the world.

That was a light-bulb moment.

And now I’m reading The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. From the start, Singer focuses on the idea that you not only don’t have to believe your thoughts, you don’t even have to listen to them at all.

Our inner dialogue can be like living with a manic-depressive, a crazy roommate who continually grabs our attention. Singer suggests:

“The best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively…the only way to get your distance from this voice is to stop differentiating what it’s saying. Stop feeling that one thing it says is you and the other thing it says is not you… You are the one who hears the voice”

I am not the voice. I am the one who hears it.

An holy wow, doesn’t that create some distance between the craziness in my head and the gorgeous view of life I have when I’m not feeling insane?

It never occurred to me to disregard the internal chatter completely. To just separate from it, in my mind. To stop arguing with it, or trying to soothe it. To just, be.

As I’m reading, I understand.

“True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection”

WIth each lesson learned, with each experience, each light-bulb moment, I am moving away from controlling an protecting myself, to living my life.

And it feels really good.

Finding a Rhythm

This about sums up how I’m feeling…

Today a possible job offer came through. I’m excited for the opportunity, but with mercury retrograding I’m leery of how it will pan out. Can’t let myself be whole-heartedly into it until things are agreed upon and papers signed.

Until then, I wait, but waiting involves this whole tension, this feeling in your gut that sends your mind racing, “But what if…?” and you either can’t sleep a full night or you find yourself in bed at weird hours. Like, 3pm.

I took Carter for a longish morning walk in the rain. I listened to a podcast interview of Jamie Ridler with Ali Edwards. Ali talks about disliking the term “finding balance”, since what seems “balanced” today may feel like chaos tomorrow. Instead, she focuses on rhythm. I found this ridiculously interesting – it resonated in my core.

Months ago, when I was still trying to find my own “balance”, I would fantasize about going for long runs, reading lots of books, having time to write, etc. The weird thing was, I had more than enough time. What I didn’t have was permission from myself to live my life. I knew I was dissatisfied with my job, guilty that gratitude was hard to come by, and the rage-filled crying fits were kind of a red flag too, but some layer of thinking kept me caught up in the doing instead of being.

What was wrong was that I was numbingly unfulfilled. I was deeply angry and silently, sleeplessly anxious. I thought I was working harder than anyone and yet I was missing what everyone else seemed so easily to grasp. A life. ~Hand Wash Cold (pg 8 )

Through a weekly meeting with my therapist I began to learn just how mean I am towards myself. How I was struggling with either “permission” or “pressure”. And that I’m so petrified of breaking the rules that I don’t make a move.

The past few months I’ve found a rhythm. Each morning is some combination of feeding & walking the dog, writing my morning pages, feeding myself, exercising and showering. I answer emails, do work, make phone calls and accomplish tasks. I cook food, wash my plates, drink tea, run the vacuum. My mom will call or I’ll meet someone for lunch. Today I even did a spontaneous 20 min of yoga, alone in the office with huge 10ft windows facing east towards the clouded sun.

And the other night I played guitar. I strummed a simple progression and H played a little lick over it and we jammed for less than an hour, but it felt good.

I can’t tell you what world this re-opens for me. It’s been years since I’ve played guitar without anxiety and the other night my head was clear, my hands felt good. I wanted to be playing and I wanted to keep playing.

Whatever iceberg that’s been frozen around my heart is starting to break up.

It’s not easy to be done with your own sob story. We might set it down for a time, but we hardly ever get rid of it. Provoked, we haul out the old emotional wadrobe and put it on again. We’re so accustomed to familiar, wounded feelings and self-serving narratives…that we mistakenly think they’re who we are. We think we are our thoughts; we think we are our feelings; we think we are nothing more than our buldging basket of past experiences.

Can we really find happiness by letting go of what we know of ourselves? It is the only way.   ~Hand Wash Cold (pg 18)

Life Is Laundry

6 loads.

One of sheets, some pulled off the bed and shoved into a ball weeks ago. Two, is towels, including ones for our bodies, ones for the dog’s body and ones for our hands in various colors to not match the kitchen and bathrooms. There’s pile #3, colors. 95% mine, the colors are made up of all my sports bras, running shorts, t-shirts and underwear. Whites are pile 4. Usually this is of utmost priority for H, as this is his 95%, consisting of white t-shirts, white socks and boxers, but this week it’s my emergency. I’m down to a few pairs of socks, none of which I want to run 3 miles in. Five is darks, and is a 50/50 split. Coming in last is #6, jeans. Now I know jeans are not really a sorting term, but they tend to create their own pile organically. My take for this last heap is 2/3 but we should note that one pair of my jeans only takes up one pant leg of H’s, so it’s almost even.

Did I mention I hate laundry?

The whole process of the piling up, the sorting, getting quarters, carrying the loads two at a time to the apartment laundry room, loading the machines hoping they don’t jam, and then setting watch and phone and microwave timers to remind us to go back out and switch and then bring it all back drives.me.nuts. And this would be the best case scenario and usually not my experience at all.

For starters, there’s the problem of people checking the machines, as if all that whirring, tumbling heat is just for show. Why they feel the need to open the door and look at my sopping wet clothes, I don’t know. It would be fine if they would then remember to turn the darn thing back on afterward. Freakin’ wasting my time and my money. There’s the unnecessary premature removal of clothing – and I can say premature with confidence (please see mention of “reminder timers”, previous paragraph). And of course, there’s personal human error – shrinkage, running colors, and God help me with how many times I check, tissues left in pockets.

Now, I’m a smart person. “Follows directions well”, “acute attention to detail” and “responsible” are all buzzword phrases to describe me. And yet, a load of laundry, either screwed up by myself, my neighbors or, let’s go there, karma, can wreck havoc on my mental state for hours.

So it’s only appropriate that I’ve begun reading Hand Wash Cold.

“I mean life is laundry, and when you do not yet see that your life is laundry, you may not see your life clearly at all. You might think, for instance, that the life you have is not at all the life you had in mind and so it doesn’t constitute your real life at all. Your real life is the life you pine for, the life you’re planning or the life you’ve already lost, the life fulfilled by the person, place, and sexy new front-loading washer of your dreams. This is the life we are most devoted to: the life we don’t have.” (pg 6)