Dear Old Me,
Last night I found myself in a familiar place. One that I know you know all too well. You have lived there your whole life and you honestly don’t believe that there could be a way to leave. It’s dark, cold and destitute. It’s lonely and you feel like no one can show you the way out. I have come a long way since I left that place, but every once in a while when I am feeling weak I find myself there again.
Yesterday, I began the day with optimism and hope and ended it in a place of self-loathing, doubt, and fear. With a good night’s sleep I can tell you now that I was simply exhausted. Having that small chink in my armor allowed all the old feelings back in. I am happy to tell you that a short 12 hours later I am already waiving good bye to that ghastly place. I see the rubble and smoke of that destitute place in my rear view mirror and I am speeding away as fast as I can.
Ironically, the people who helped me out of the depths of despair are the same people who are as familiar with that place as you are. I think if you asked them they would say that they visit there more often than they would like. You see, they are your compatriots, your fellow refugees... your family. Something calls us all back to this god-forsaken place. They understand the demons that haunt you better than anyone else in the world. I am so grateful that they were there to help me leave.
Last night I went to my regular Wednesday class. I knew it would be a little harder than normal and I would have to push myself. After all I had already done a full hour long work out at the butt-crack of dawn. Immediately following the 6am workout I went to work at a job that can be described in the nicest possible way as tedious. After work I was running, running, running all night long taking care of my other responsibilities. I always look forward to my week night Zumba classes and even though I was tired I would not even consider missing them. They have become a refuge for me and a way for me to show myself that I am worth taking care of. During class I typically feel strong and beautiful and leave exhilarated and proud. Last night… not so much.
To say the least, I struggled through class. Right at the end, during a song that I usually love I felt weak… tired, exhausted. It felt like I had hit a 10 foot thick, 100 foot tall wall and I was stuck. Like the draw bridge to the castle walls surrounding my new empire had been pulled up and I was outside in the wasteland that I have worked so hard to leave. I felt like I was a failure because I had to stop and catch my breath and that everyone thought the same way. There I was, in the darkness finding myself feeling weak and wishing and longing to be accepted by others. With all the progress I have made I am usually able to shake it off and not worry about it. I am learning that I must stay immune to the opinions of others and not worry what they think, but there in the darkness of exhaustion I lost sight of that. As I got in my car away from the rest of the class I let the self-doubt take over. I started doubting my capabilities and the negativity ingrained in my soul took over. I had to pull over on the side of the road because I could not stop the tears from falling.
I got home and out of habit (with tears still in my eyes) got on Facebook. Admittedly I was looking for some comfort from friends. I saw that my brother John was online and sent him a quick message to say hi, he always has a way of making me laugh and feel better. Almost immediately it showed him offline (he had simply shut his computer off before seeing my message). In my fragile state I let this pull me down further and new tears started stinging my eyes. I sent him a quick message saying something along the lines of “What the heck?!” It was late but I know that as soon as he realized I needed him to cheer me up, he called me. I missed the call because I had started bawling again and wanted to just wallow in my misery. This morning I was met by this message from him:
hang in there. the ups and downs are painful. i go through em too. lucky for me, i'm on a tear this week. killing it. last week -- not so much. oh well. wish it were more stable, but then how would i identify with people down (deep down, like way deep down) in the dumps unless i spent some time there myself?
And this from him:
are you enough to you? someday you'll be enough to someone/something else. maybe robots. i am waiting for the robots to take over. maybe one of them will be attracted to our quirky, unique, overpowering awesomeness. please robots. please come. (Seriously, he cracks me up all the time)
And from my older sister Melynda in response to my status update on Facebook:
Ah, the old self-doubt/self-loathing monster. I have come to the firm conclusion this is perhaps *the worst* residual legacy our parents "blessed" us with. Getting over all the other crap has been a breeze compared to learning how to slay ...this beast. And when we are tired? It just makes it worse.
And my younger sister Angelyn who has just embarked on what I hope is her own journey to happiness with renewed commitment to her weight loss reminded me that I need to be an example to others. She had sent me a text message in the wee hours with her current weight, saying that she needed to tell someone so she could be accountable.
These messages from the people who truly understand me best snapped me back to the reality that is my life now. They reminded me that my reality is that I am strong enough, capable enough and loveable enough and that I deserve all the happiness in the world. They reminded me I am not alone on this journey and I can always find comfort in them.
I need to show these fellow refugees of my homeland and the rest of the world, for that matter that it is possible to leave that dark place for good. It is okay to go back and look through a hole in the wall on occasion and from time to time you may need to rescue any wounded, wandering prisoners of war. However you should not stay there. Let these visits be a reminder of how far you have come. And if you do by some chance get locked in the dark they hold the keys to help get you out. Look to them when you feel the darkness creeping in. They will be your greatest asset.
The New You