I want to share with you some of my thoughts on why I am writing this blog.
First of all, I think blogs are popular because voyeurism is powerful. I want to see how other people’s lives work for many reasons. I am curious. I want to see what other people are like, because I wonder in a deep way whether I am like other people. The desire to be understood is very strong. I am also curious about how I look to other people. Putting myself “out there” in a broader way than however much that happens in my everyday real life is interesting. First, on the internet I have control over what I am portraying. Of course I care about how I might come across and whether people like me. My main goal is not to create any certain image but rather to learn about who I am. I am in the midst of a great experiment to discover who I really am, in the deepest sense, and learn how to embrace and live as “the real me.” I hope that if I am honest in my writing I will be able to look at what I have created and think, “Wow, hello self!”
There are so many things that have gotten in the way of me being who I really am. Ideas I have about others’ expectations, or maintaining someone else’s skewed vision of reality. I have allowed so many influences to dictate certain aspects of my life that I am now choosing little by little to take charge of. I am slowly learning to stand up and look at myself, good and bad, and make choices about who I want to be. This is terrifying! It is much easier to stay in a state of half awareness, going about my day with the chatter in my mind in charge of how I see the world and what I choose to do. I am learning little by little to have what I think is called mindfulness. To watch my thoughts and moods rather than letting them control me. I am discovering that the more space I can get between myself and my reactions or thoughts, the more I have the option to choose how I react and think. Little by little I am able to choose how I see things and how I react. The more practice I have with it the easier it becomes in certain areas. Then I can move on to other areas. Some are more painful than others.
I feel like I’m being esoteric so let me give you a concrete example. Mo and I have had a hard time communicating, especially about certain things that we each have baggage about, issues that trigger emotions from other places and times. We used to always react at each other and get defensive, using a lot of negative coping mechanisms we’d picked up along the way to get through life. Through therapy and a true commitment to honesty, we have begun to be able to articulate how we are feeling. Sometimes I can actually say to Mo, in the midst of a conversation about anything, “I’m feeling scared. I’m really having a hard time connecting with you.” In the past I would have been saying, in a louder and louder voice, “Well I don’t know what you’re problem is, you just don’t understand!” That would have pushed us further away from each other. Saying honestly that “I’m feeling scared” gives Mo the opportunity to say, “I’m here for you” rather than reacting himself and saying something like, “It’s not my problem, you’re not making any sense!” Do you know what I mean?
I have spent much of my life seeing a kind of lifestyle that appeals to me, and trying to do external things to attain it. Some of the things I have always been attracted to are health, social justice, generosity, and love. You may find this corny, but I am being serious! In order to attain these things I have tried doing the things that seem like what I am supposed to do to get there. Eating food that I see as “healthy” but not thinking about it in a healthy way. I have worked in service industries and offered my love, but I have given myself away in relationships. These are all ways that I was trying to work toward the values that I am most attracted to. Only now, now that I am really willing to do the hard work of looking in the mirror and getting to know myself, even when I don’t like what I see, am I actually able to work toward some of these same values in a genuine way. Right now my life and my work are with my family so that is the context in which they are playing out. For the first time in my life I feel genuinely healthy. I actually want to eat healthy foods in a healthy way both physically and mentally. The ways we (especially women) mistreat ourselves with food is amazing. When I have had honest conversations with other women about this, I am amazed at the way we really feel about what we put into our bodies and how we really think about ourselves. Now that I am finding a little more space in my mind, I notice the absence of a lot of negative self talk. It is truly disturbing to me how much room it was taking up.
I am certainly not writing this to share “my secrets to a healthier life.” I am just beginning my journey and the answers to my questions are not the answers to yours. I want to share with you that it is hard to ask, and as I find the courage to discover more about myself, I hope you will see that it is possible.
To whoever you are, thanks for giving me somewhere to put my thoughts that feels much more meaningful that just swimming around in my own head.