A week ago the sole of my shoe, from my favourite pair of shoes became unstuck, it was left dangling, semi attached and flapped away with every step I took. It was such a strong metaphor for how I was feeling and had been feeling for far too long. I am normally a positive, calm and relatively together kind of person but of late I have been struggling, not because there was anything wrong with me, but I am the glue that holds many pieces together. I have people in my life who are dealing with significant challenges and my capacity to hold emotional space for them had left me. It was like the glue dried up, I became shriveled up, dry and ineffective. I wasn’t even going through the motions of holding things together, I missed or cancelled meetings and took weeks off work. At home, I was lucky to be cooking a meal a week, I was listless and deflated.
Now, I am well school in self-care, so was doing what I could, of what I know helps me, I was going to yoga, although the early mornings became extra challenging, taking baths, staying in touch with my girlfriends and took the time off work when I knew I needed to, rather than pushing through, I took myself down to the beach, just to watch the sea and I cried a lot of tears. I even went to the Dr and asked for a full blood work up, just to check that medically I was okay and that I wasn’t dismissing something underlying that was the cause of my state. When I returned for the results, I was slightly disappointed that he said I was all good! I was really hoping he would say, “yes, you have a slight iron deficiency, just take a supplement, and you’ll be back to your old self.” But he didn’t, “No pill was going to cure my ill” to quote Huey Lewis. So, it was up to me. I eventually just got so sick of feeling like a Debbie Downer, I was sick of myself and I felt like the hits kept coming and each one kept me stuck in a place I no longer wanted to be in. I was in quicksand not getting out, despite my best efforts, so just like being in quicksand, I did what was needed and no longer fought against it.
I am a big advocate for feeling your feelings, so I really focusing on allowing my body to just process what had been an emotionally tough patch, of many years. There was nothing to be done, other than surrendering to it and trusting that “this too shall pass” and today it has. Today I feel different, today I feel like me again!! Today I feel like I can participate in my life rather than observe it from the outside.
So what did I learn?
- That the world continued to turn, it doesn’t need me to spin it. Our ego can tell us that we are needed, but the reality is that, whilst our contributions might be desirable and missed, we never want to set up environments that don’t function without us. Did some things not happen because I wasn’t there to make them happen, yes, but will there be long term damage or consequences, no.
- Other people will step up for me, my kids cooked, shopped, washed and cleaned, my friends checked in on me and organised coffee dates, walks and lunches together and forgave me for when I had to cancel because I couldn’t do life that day.
- That the people in our lives love us for who we are not what we do for them. The need to people please and be liked is so dominate in our psyche, it can push us to believe that unless we say yes to everything, we won’t be liked anymore. My friends and family loved me, even when I was miserable to be around and my tears flowed, they had no expectation of me just getting on with it, they gave me time, space and trusted I knew what I needed to heal.
I have been reading Non Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg and he talks about getting clear on our feelings and understanding what need that feeling is reflecting. I was so depleted, so sucked dry, not because anyone placed unrealistic demands on me or that anyone in my life was a burden, but I felt sooo needed, it became unhealthy and unsustainable. I was able to tell people that I had nothing else to give and the wheels didn’t fall off, for anyone. In fact they all gave back to me. What I gift this has been.
This has transformed how I view the relationships I have and recognise what a privilege it is to serve freely the people I care about, knowing it comes from love and not obligation, I choose it, it is not a requirement for their love. We don’t enter into relationships with a view for what I will get out of this, and begin a score card, but unless we learn to receive freely in balance with giving, we won’t have genuine connections and that is something we do all need!
If you are looking for ways you can create deeper connections with those close to you by exploring your own needs, please drop me a line and watch this space for some exciting announcements!