“Remember always that the quiet girl who wanted to put good into the world, the one who is shy and scared, but full of faith; she is who you are. That girl is worth something. She has value. Keep trying to find her and love her so that she won’t feel so lost, so lonely. My biggest goal is that ten years from now, heck one year from now I want to walk into a room and feel like I belong here, feel enough, capable, funny, wise, warm and engaging. I hope this year you find a balance between what you do and who you are and how you handle that so that goal becomes a reality. You should never have to apologize for the space you take up in the world.“
I wrote these words earlier this year; in a letter to my future self. Boy how a little shelter in place and a bit more time to reflect allows a mind to turn on itself. My inner voice has been my biggest critic my whole life. I know I am not alone in that. It is something other people grapple with as well. Apologizing for the space I take up or what I bring to that space is constant. In fact, I have described the feeling as my not-enough-ness and even say it has the ability to act up again. Like it has a mind of its own. This shelter in place has tested my ability to counter act that not-enough-ness feeling on the daily.
Is what I am doing with the kids enough? How can I help when our family has also taken a financial hit with me having to switch up and work from home while taking care of the kids? How can I reach out more when I literally feel like I don’t have anything to talk about or the right words to help soothe a friend’s aching heart? How do you show up when are not physically supposed to? Why don’t you know more about the virus, what the president is doing, politics, math, history, science, etc? Why aren’t you taking up a new hobby? Why aren’t you trying something new? Why are you so tired? I never seem to know enough, even if I try. Why try when your best never measures up?
Yes, I am a pro at self sabotage. I don’t even understand it. I have never understood it; I even had a therapist that basically didn’t know why I couldn’t counter act it because I had so many logical ways of talking myself down time and again.
I have been exercising. I keep trying to tidy things up, or clean things, even if they seem to get dirty and need cleaning ten minutes later. I have been trying to get enough sleep, but my brain is having a hard time allowing me to fully rest, especially since the days seem to be less busy without all the driving from place to place and four overlapping schedules of activities. But again, I struggle to keep this up. I have good days and bad days.
I know we are supposed to be breathing deeper and enjoying the down time since we have the privilege of doing so; and I am. But my brain kicks up another notch and is getting after me for not reading enough, not being with my kids enough, not writing enough, not cooking, not baking, not cleaning, not whatever-ing enough. “Why did you watch so much T.V. today?” it nags at me.
“You are so lazy, no wonder you are fat.”
“You are useless.”
I try to watch the news and keep up to date, but there are things that are covered that literally make me sob and the kids then start asking why I am so sad and then I worry about keeping them upbeat and motivated. So I limit my intake.
I have deleted social media from my phone, but then I feel like I am not available to those that might need me. I log on occasionally and find myself unfollowing people because I get so overwhelmed and angry and hurtful posts, posts where people are arguing to boost their own pride. I sweat sometime people complain just to complain. It is nauseating. But then I feel like my heart is callous and I should be more understanding of everyone’s voice.
It is a non-stop barrage of unworthiness in my head.
So, yesterday, I decided to chose joy.
Not just chose it, reach for it whole-heartedly.
I took a long walk instead of my usual run. I phoned a friend. I left video messages for other friends. I cooked breakfast for dinner, a family favorite.
I watched John Krasinski’s Some Good News, twice. I might watch it again and again. It is below, you are welcome.
I watched The Tonight Show from Home with Jimmy Fallon and his quarantine from home remix with Justin Timberlake made me laugh out loud. It was just what a I needed.
Then I watched bloopers from the Office.
And read to my kids before bed. They decided to have a sleepover and all sleep in the family room. I literally fell asleep listening to their laughter.
It may seem impossible to chose joy, to reach for it, but even if your heart is heavy, even is you are crippled with worry over finances, even if your heart is grieving, you can reach for joy. It might be a soft blanket, a fresh patch of grass in the sunshine, a deep breath, a nap, a friend’s voice. Even if it doesn’t seem possible, there is joy to find; reach for it. Please find it.
And even if you think; oh, that girl speaks from a place of privilege what does she know? You are right. I have so many privileges I was born into, but I earned things in this life, too.
And if you are struggling, if you are in a place of need how can I help you find joy? Or how did you find a piece of joy for yourself? Enlighten me, help me understand how to help you better or other spaces to find joy. I want to know, learn, understand.
Wishing you a little piece of joy today and every day.