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.
Today at work, I was eating and working through lunch, as is the norm for a winery with a very small staff, and I choked on something I was eating. At first I thought it would be OK if I just got up to get water, but I wasn’t quick enough. I tried to breathe and I couldn’t. There were only three of us in the office: me, the bookkeeper, and the sales manager. The bookkeeper was closest, but she didn’t know what to do. I felt myself getting lightheaded and I couldn’t talk. At that moment, my life really did flash before my eyes, just as described in books and other media. I walked towards the sales manager and managed to mouth to him, “Help me.” He grabbed me and performed the Heimlich Maneuver repeatedly until finally the I could breathe. I was sweating and tears were streaming down my face. Thankfully he knew what to do and he saved my life. What you don’t know is that after this happens, you are afraid to eat and especially afraid to eat alone. I settled on liquid tonight, spicy soup, to soothe my throat. Call it strategic eating. Tonight also just happened to be my weekly chiropractor appointment. My chiropractor knew something was wrong. “It’s like facing your own mortality,” he said, when he learned what happened to me today. I told him I thought it was a sign that I needed to make some changes in my life and he agreed. He said exactly what I had been thinking most of the day: events like this are intentional and are meant to wake us up from things or people from the past or the present that are keeping us stuck. He scanned me, “I haven’t seen you this misaligned in months,” and gave me the most major neck adjustment I’ve had since I started going last May. During my longer resting period, my thoughts were racing. What’s next? I can’t stop thinking about my life: my past, my present, my future, what I want, where I am now, and where I want to be. I am still here for a reason and I know what I need to do. It’s putting my thoughts, ideas, and intentions into action. It’s about following my instincts about both things and people. It’s about removing anxiety, stress, and toxicity from my life. Now. Before I need to be scared straight again.
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.
When you numb your pain you also numb your joy. ~ Brene Brown
I have one more thing to write before 2015 begins after all.
Yesterday, I had a panic attack about being alone. I don’t mean not being in a relationship, I mean feeling disconnected from the world, away from East Coast family and friends. I never had panic attacks until I lost my relationship and job in 2012, but I guess they are a form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), maybe? Most of them are about finances, but this was personal. With these moments of panic often come moments of clarity and enlightenment.
While I took a big risk by moving across the country for a new life and I love to travel to new places, I’ve never really opened myself up completely to opportunities or people since I moved. I have RSVPed to events or get-togethers with people I didn’t know, then chickened out at the last minute. I wanted to go, but I was afraid. Sometimes I attended, but I would quickly exit. I just arrived home from Hawaii and realized that while I was there, I did the same thing. I spent a lot of time with new friends that welcomed me into their fold, but I also would retreat to my hotel when I could. Part of that is because I’m an HSP and crowds and activity can overstimulate me. However, I also think it’s because I am drained from keeping my guard up.
On Christmas Eve, I watched one of my favorite movies again, French Kiss, but with different eyes. It has comedy, romance, France, a great wine moment, and it has a woman like me, a crazy chick who takes a risk that goes against her grain. However, she discovers along the way that she had been living a very closed life.
As I thought of all of this, it hit me. I am like an egg, closed, afraid to break open. I’m afraid of someone breaking through the shell that I’ve built around me for two and a half years. I’m afraid of not being accepted. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid to really live. My chiropractors have known this for seven months, as they have had to open me up physically nearly every week.
In 2015, this egg will be ready to crack open. What good is an egg with an unbroken shell? The shell is meant to be removed to get to the deliciousness inside. I know it will be a process to let go of my fears, but it’s all about baby steps. It’s about peeling the shell away one piece at a time. And just wait until you see what’s inside of me.
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 myself. Choose strength. Choose to let go.
Choose to grow.
Mastin’s book is more than I ever imagined. I read the book last night in one sitting. I could not put it down. It was a profound, mystical experience, yet written in a way that everyone who reads the book will be able to “keep what resonates” for them. I am still on my journey to Grace and can see great similarities between myself and my feelings and Mastin’s, even though our Divine Storms were quite different. I appreciate that Mastin not only shares his growth and journey, but includes and highlights the work of his peers and mentors, which helped him weather and thrive beyond his storm.
Mastin and me in Asheville
Having been under chiropractic treatment since May because my spine basically closed up as I cocooned myself from the world for the past couple of years, I really began to fully understand the mind-body connection. Opening my spine and my body has been synonymous with letting go of the past and gradually getting myself unstuck from all that happened to me. This book reiterates the connection between our minds and our bodies. If we deny our Hero’s Journey, it can affect our physical, emotional, and mental health, and the world will also not benefit from our unique gift.
There is so much more I would like to share, but I would spoil the book for future readers. I will conclude by saying that the content goes well beyond Mastin’s blog and allows the reader to better understand him as a person, a writer, and a spiritual leader of his generation.
To buy your copy/copies, visit this link. I have both the hard copy and Kindle versions and will receive a signed copy in San Francisco at the workshop. Perhaps I will see you there?