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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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You said "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".

    I feel like this too, even though in my younger years I revelled in making entrances, being the life of the party etc. Now I love quietness, stillness, opportunities to think, reflect etc.
    It's amazing how we change at any age and need that time to just 'be'.

    Thanks for your blog...loved it
    3069 days ago
    Love this blog, it sounds like me exactly, always running around after my 3 kids, husband, my familly, his familly, my friends, where is the time for ME?
    Thankyou for this blog, I often wonder if my excess 100lbs has a little to do with never having time to do anything about it - now I realise yes it probably does.
    I guess i find it hard to say no and i dont like confrontaton and hate to feel guilty.
    Goodluck in your continuing journey.
    Hali emoticon
    3075 days ago

    I can really relate to this -- but I'm on the other side of it. I am so lax about returning calls (because it is an invasion of my private time), that I am losing touch with friends -- I just can't seem to find the gumption to return a call within 10 days...

    Maybe we can switch our issues a little bit -- you can become more lax about it, and I can get a bit more responsible!

    3076 days ago
    I've noticed for some years that some friends will call only to tell me their problems and never ask about my life. Some will not call unless they have a problem. And of course the real friends I treasure make sure to ask me about me and my family as much as they talk about theirs. Plus, they let me finish my train of thought before jumping on top of my sentences.
    Respect is a treasure. Glad you put your blog out there for all of us to learn and benefit. emoticon
    3082 days ago
    Great blog!
    3082 days ago
    This blog is so inspiring to me. I have SUCH a problem with over-giving of myself. I don't think i am ready to do as you have done, but I know it has to happen eventually--- I can't live like this forever. Thanks for posting this blog-- it really showed me that detaching myself from the NEEDS of everyone who constantly needs me IS possible.
    3082 days ago
    You have a beautiful writing style. I am really loving your blogs. Thank you!
    3082 days ago
    Melissa, as you have strengthened your body it is also crystal clear that you have strengthened your mind. You are a paragon, really.

    Best of luck with the 'fallout'. Sounds to me like it may be some essential 'housecleaning' of friends that will leave you with the cream of the crop (which you more than deserve!)
    3104 days ago
    I totally agree with your new resolve to live your life as you want it. Next 'stacation' maybe you should tell your "friends" that you are leaving town and maybe they won't try to call you (and then again, maybe some of them will). When the 'stacation' is over, if they are upset, just tell them that you changed your plans at the last minute and didn't want to bother them. I think that standing firm in your plans should work the same as it did with your partying buddies. You CAN do it!!!

    3105 days ago
  • BAM0827
    Great blog on how this journey is more than losing weight. Becoming healthy involves our whole life.

    3105 days ago
    what we need, what we can offer others, everything is always shifting, it is important to take stock and shift with which is what i think you are doing here, good stuff :) the more you let it out the more you can figure out what does work for you, who you want around you and how to jockey your time...and i lol'd at the folks who feel they are the exception to the rule cause i have so experienced that as well *L*
    3105 days ago
    I could be all ooshy and gooshy but I will sum up how I feel in a few short words:

    I have always thought you were a very wise person and every time I read what you write it confirms my feelings.

    Being a people pleaser myself I would have freaked out if people would have honored my wishes not to call. I would have wondered what I had done wrong, LOL.

    I agree with letting go. I have started and it is not only relaxing but so darned therapeutic.
    3105 days ago
    You are really learning how to find balance in your life. Having "too many friends" is a high-class problem. It's nice to see you taking such good care of yourself.
    3105 days ago
  • BANAN2
    3105 days ago
    You really don't owe anybody anything, other than yourself. Obviously you want to do things for Dan and your immediate family, but you don't have to accomodate people that make demands on your time without respecting your boundaries. The people that really care about you will respect your choices, and will work with you to find alternatives (if it's getting together, having a chat, whatever). If people can't handle the decisions you're making to improve your life, then you might start to wonder what the basis of the relationship is.

    You're doing well for yourself, and I'm so glad to call you a Spark Friend. You're an inspiration Melissa!
    3105 days ago
    A lovely blog :) I think you are doing so good with standing up for yourself now! It is amazing how when you learn to love your body, you start to realize more of what you deserve and wont accept! I know the feeling because I too am a people-pleaser but I think it was important for you to hold your ground on those calls. And although it brought you anxiety the next time and the time after that should get easier and easier for you...and you're letting people know that you are serious! :)
    3105 days ago
    I LOVE your blog today! It completely sounds like my life!! I too - need to do exactly what you are doing because it bodes for a healither life!

    Here is to a heathier, happier private you! emoticon
    3105 days ago
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