If I’m not at my best, I can’t give the you – my friends, my family, the world – my best. I have to put myself first to be the best I can be for everyone.
In my situation, it should not be that difficult to take care of me. I am single without children, so I have no dependents of any kind. However, as an HSP or an empath, I not only take on my own stress and emotions, but those of others. It’s not a conscious choice, it just happens because that’s who I am. Therefore, it’s not as easy as it seems.
This weekend, I decided to forcefully let go of everything and put myself first. I made a statement out loud: I am letting go. It was hard. I felt like I was betraying you. I felt guilty. I felt selfish. However, as soon as I said it, it was a huge relief. I spent the whole weekend doing what I wanted, when I wanted, and with whom I wanted. I enjoyed a wonderful Friday evening working, but it was a fun kind of work. Saturday morning, I slept in a bit (as much as a cat will allow), then took care of things I don’t have time to do during the week, such as paying bills, replying to emails, whatever I felt like doing. In the afternoon, I went to a party, then an unexpected afterparty. It turned out to be the best day and evening I’ve had since I moved to California. Sunday, I chose to stay at home. I even did some work and it was almost effortless because I was in the right frame of mind and environment. I love days when I am not committed to anything or anyone and have the freedom to do as I please.
I don’t think I realized how much of the world I was taking on until I let it all go. Being everything to everyone is like an heavy anchor. It brings me down and makes me feel immobile, constrained, and stressed. On the other hand, when I say yes to me. it makes me a better person, the person I know I am.
I’ve written and talked about letting go as many times as I have failed at letting go. My challenge is that when I commit to someone or something, I’m in it for the long haul. I invest myself and my emotions steadfastly and completely.
Then it happens. Something or someone hurts me or disappoints me. I am treated unfairly in some way. For most people, that would be the final straw, but with me, I try to remain hopeful. It takes a few times for this to happen before I really let go. This week, I was kicked to the curb. It shook me to my core and made me re-evaluate myself. After some tears, anger, and feelings of hatred, I realized I can’t keep allowing unfair circumstances or hurtful people to control me. When I hold onto something so tightly, that means I am allowing it/him/her to control me. I was giving the situation too much of my attention and energy.
After this experience, I promised myself no more, and after a few days, I am still keeping my own promise to myself. It’s not easy. Sometimes I have to just say to myself, “Stop thinking about it. It’s done. It no longer matters.” Sometimes I start to react, then stop in my tracks. I redirect my focus to something or someone that does matter. I regain control and distance myself from the circumstances.
The good news is when I obey myself and relax, I feel so much better. I know this is going to sound bad on some level, but sometimes not giving a damn is the best choice.
I’ve only had two experiences in my life where I felt I could have died. The first was when I had taken an extra job working at a restaurant to supplement my teaching income that summer, but decided to keep working there nights and weekends during the fall semester. I was working every day and night somewhere. One evening, I had left work to visit a friend, and on my way home, I was involved in a terrible car accident that should have killed me. All I remember is that one minute I was driving, the next minute I was in my car, facing the opposite direction of where I was headed, and paramedics were lifting me onto a gurney. The first thing I said was, “Did I hurt anyone?” I didn’t remember my teaching job, just my restaurant job. It was determined that I fell asleep for a moment, and in that moment, my car hit the right guardrail at 55 mph, which spun the car around into the left guardrail, then finally came to rest facing the other direction in the middle of the highway. Thankfully, no other cars were on the road, and I only suffered a mild concussion and a very bruised up knee from hitting the dashboard and windshield. My seat belt was broken and the new one was on order, so it was not functional. From this I walked away and quickly realized that the restaurant job had to go.
I have been doing a lot of soul searching these first 16 days of the new year. I’m not one to make resolutions, but instead, I take an assessment of where I have been, where I am, and where I want to be. Last year was a learning experience in many ways, both professionally and personally. By the time the holidays arrived, everything sort of came to a head for me. I was not making the kind of progress that I wanted to make in any area of my life.
As a Highly Sensitive Person, I tend to take on the world’s feelings as my own and I take things too personally. Imagine being bombarded with sensory overload 24/7 and constantly trying to say and do what is right. That’s how it is to be me. I was overwhelmed with immeasurable fatigue and stress.
A little over a week ago, I made time to go to my doctor for a physical. I am generally healthy. In fact, I lost 17 pounds in 2014, gave up caffeine, and stopped taking unnecessary long-term medications. However, I also learned during this visit how much chronic fatigue and stress have been affecting me. I gave into my doctor’s recommendations to improve my sleep and alleviate feeling overwhelmed, thus assisting me reach my greater potential.
The results have been remarkable so far. Better sleep has an astounding effect on mood, mindset, and physical health. I catch myself starting to worry about something or becoming angry, but I quickly stop, regroup, and refocus. I feel a sense of calm I have not felt in a long time.
Giving of myself until I can’t give anymore overwhelms me. Being nice to the point of risking becoming a doormat exhausts me. Feeling guilty because I cannot be everything to everyone smothers me. Put a fork in me, I am done. I am giving in to what makes me happy, releasing what doesn’t, and rediscovering myself again. Letting go is not giving up, it is a courageous act of moving forward. More is not more. Less is more.
If I could describe this year in one word, it would be crazy. Who in the hell packs up and leaves the life they know, their comfort zone, their family, their friends, their people, the South, the reality they have known all of their life, and moves across the country to start a new career? I’ll tell you who. This crazy girl.
It’s been a roller coaster of a year. The first phase was bliss: I can’t believe I live and work here. Every season is gorgeous, well, except the pouring rain right now. I pass famous vineyard after vineyard every morning on Silverado Trail and in the beginning I was thinking, “Holy shit, I LIVE here!” There’s wine everywhere. People drink and give wine away like it’s water. I have about 90 bottles right now and started out with 24 when I moved and I am drinking wine multiple days per week.
The second phase is reality. Napa is expensive. My apartment is a third of the size and over triple the rent of my apartment in Virginia. Fresh food is abundant, but costly. Gas is higher than in much of the country. My old car had two major, unexpected repairs. Health insurance finally kicked in and I realized I need a dentist, doctor, and medications. I also needed a veterinarian for my cat. Reality exists in Napa Valley. I finally went to a chiropractor after having been in pain since December 2013 and realized that’s one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. Because of my chiropractic care, my overall physical and mental health have improved. I no longer have the pain I had. I’ve cut out most of the daily medications I was taking for allergies and other things. I now take one allergy medication and a couple baby aspirin per day (confession: I’m terrified of having strokes like my mom and uncles had, even though I’ve never smoked like they did). I also discovered along the way that I’m not really like about 80% of everyone else. That was a big reality check. There’s also the reality that every job has its good and not-so-good days, even at a gorgeous winery in Napa Valley.
The third phase I’m going to call the holidays alone. It’s the time of year when my dad passed away. My mom is in a nursing home in North Carolina. I’m in a place far away from my people. Strangely enough, in a place that is often festive with an abundance of wine, food, and events galore, it’s been hard to connect with people here. I knew a ton of people here via social media, then I arrived, but my social life is meh. There’s also the “I have no one to spend the holidays with” syndrome, which has been going on since 2012. This is my third year trying to arrange things so as to not be alone. In fact, this past month, my coping mechanism has been crazy-ass travel: Philadelphia, Seattle twice, and Asheville. I needed to get away and be with my people.
Although most days I feel like I am where I want to be, there are some days I really struggle. I miss people from the East Coast, I battle loneliness, and I have sleep issues from the stress of such a big life change. Sometimes it feels like me against the world. I owe an apology to those I’ve maybe leaned on a little too much this year, but I am thankful to have you, too.
Today was one of those challenging days. Both the rains and my tears flowed most of the day. However, at the end of the day, I discovered an unexpected blessing. A much-needed blessing. It was in that moment I truly felt like the Universe may not have forgotten me after all and I was filled with a bit of hope. After the rain and tears stop, there’s something beautiful to behold. Someone at work told me that when things get crazy tough, just go running through vineyard to clear my mind. I think she’s right. Running through the vineyard sounds like a much better idea than tears.
I’m ready to get back to the bliss phase in 2015. And admittedly, it’s still there inside of me when I allow it. I still say to myself, “Holy shit, I LIVE here!”
I have a chiropractor who believes in the mind-body connection like I do. Every visit she adjusts me based on zones, which have both physical and emotional components attached to them. I have finally reached the maintenance level of chiropractic care, but every now and then I have what I call a relapse. Today was one of those days and I knew it before I arrived for my appointment. Throughout the day, my physical discomfort increased relative to the emotional pain I was experiencing. I tend to repress my feelings, which affects me physically. I required a complete adjustment tonight.
After my adjustments, my chiropractor always provides me with an affirmation for my 15-minute rest period. Tonight’s was:
I am strong.
I trust my foundation.
I repeated my affirmation and thought about what it meant for me.
I know I am strong. I know I am a survivor. However, what is my foundation? What are my core beliefs and values?
When I think of myself, these descriptors come to mind:
In spite of everything that has happened to me, sometimes I am still guilty of doubting my own strength. I allow things to shake me to my core, to my foundation, if you will. I analyze and question myself. After repeating this affirmation, I realized there is nothing wrong with me. I am still strong. My foundation is solid if I just believe and trust in myself. I can only be shaken if I allow myself to be shaken. I will only crumble if I allow myself to crumble. It’s all about my choices and my reactions to the world around me.
My revised affirmation:
Choose to let go.
Choose to grow.