Some Musings on Room for More--or the Next--Growth
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Last week's staycation was, in sum, lovely! It was really nice to have the time off from the usual routine, and Dan and I remained (VERY) active--we ran together 3 times, spent a few hours swimming at the gym, walked about 7 miles in NYC, and hiked 8 miles on the Appalachian trail. We had lovely dinners out and enjoyed our time together. My only regret is that we didn't have more time off.
As is often the case, the time off did open me up to some elements of my current M.O. that just aren't working for me. I had told my friends and family ahead of time that I would be unavailable on the phone unless they truly needed something, and my family definitely respected that. I had several friends though that called regularly trying to track me down. I'm proud to say that I stuck to the boundary I set and did not return phone calls until yesterday, my first official day "back." Any fellow people-pleasers out there will understand what I mean when I say simply refusing to answer or return phone calls until the week was up didn't allow me to continue to feel relaxed; the phone calls hung over my head and the anxiety set in, as I expected, which is why I had asked for space in the first place. At the end of the week too, I had an exchange with a friend who (I don't know how else to put this) simply REFUSED to accept what I said when I told him we'd be able to see him again after Thanksgiving and not sooner. He started, "What about THIS date?" And when I wasn't available for that date, "Well what about THIIIISS date?" and etc.
I am grateful to have friends and to have people who want to include me in their lives. I am, however, continuously struck by the number of people I've accumulated in my life who cannot respect the boundaries I set for myself, get angry with me for setting them, and see themselves as the "exception" to the boundaries I've set. Probably not too surprisingly, I'm also struck by the number of people I have in my life who seem to NEED something from me (usually an ear), and once they get it, are happy to check out until the next drama, never really bothering to offer to check in with what I might have going on! To be entirely frank, that's just not okay for me anymore.
(I feel like I have to add the disclaimer here, btw, that I've gotten REALLY, REALLY good at being clear about my boundaries and being honest about them. REALLY good. Seriously good.)
Here's the other reality I sort of faced this past week: I actually really like being private (I almost said "alone" but that's not quite accurate). I enjoy spending time with my primary family (which is Dan) and my extended family (my family of origin). I prefer reading in front of a fire on a Saturday night, like my workout routines, enjoy interacting with the lovely people on sparkpeople, and enjoy the work I presently get to do teaching at the college. Relationships--friendships--ha
ve become center stage (mostly because for right now I have a lot of them), and it's becoming a full-time job just to juggle them and manage my almost constant anxiety that I'm disappointing someone or not meeting someone's needs and/or expectations.
So I've decided to kick back and work on letting go. MY anxiety is MY problem. It's time to make the choices that are right for me, time to structure my life in the way that brings me the most joy and fulfillment, do the things that I truly want to do (and NOT the things I feel obligated to do), and deal with whatever fallout comes of that. People are allowed to feel angry with me, disappointed with me, think I'm a crappy friend--whatever. What other people think of me is none of my business. I can manage the guilt and anxiety that will follow that decision, and I can weather it instead of avoid it--which is what I've been doing for months and months, maybe even years and years, rushing around trying to please everyone and meet everyone else's needs to avoid others' anger and disappointment, and my own guilt. Time to go through the feelings I've been avoiding and risk others' anger. Life is too short, and the promises of what's on the other side look too appealing!
Life here is generally good. I have a good deal of clarity lately, and some simplicity too. Since losing most of this excess weight, I take a lot more joy in absolutely everything--I even look forward to a weekend full of managing the leaves in the yard, grading big, hefty papers, and cooking cozy meals. When I was deep in the food and 100+ pounds more than I am today, everything felt like a burden or a chore, and I struggled to articulate the things that were ACTUALLY bothering me--and solutions seemed simply non-existent. Every morning I wake up grateful not to be in that space. Growth is continual, change is constant. To be able to recognize the spaces where the "next growth" needs to happen is, to me, a gift.