I’m going through my documents clearing away old ones that I haven’t looked at in years (I still had weekly youth group schedules from 2001!). In the process I’ve come across some interesting documents. One was of several pages of poems written by youth on a retreat many years ago – they were in high school then, they are adults in their mid-20s now. I also found a piece I wrote a little over a year ago. It was at one of my lowest points in my job. Reading it again helps me know how far I’ve come – every now and then I need that reminder. So here it is…
I got home today and just didn’t feel well – a headache or maybe sinuses, I’m not sure. I wanted to get some work done but I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so I lay down on the couch. I was there for 2 hours – napping on and off. Denali was on the floor next to me – happy that I was home and annoyed that we weren’t “doing” anything. I knew I needed to get up but I just didn’t want to. I thought, well, just try doing one thing. So I went to the bathroom. Try another thing. I fed Denali. I’m sure you could do another thing. I did a load of laundry. Maybe one more thing? I put on my boots and we went for a walk. The cold, fresh air was just what I needed.
The path we took today is one we do a few times a week. It involves lots of dogs. There is one stretch where 4-5 dogs bark and bark at us – it’s really loud and very obnoxious. As I was walking and listening to all that barking, I began to think. Those dogs are really loud, but they are all behind fences. When we walk by the fence and their bark is the loudest, Denali often whimpers a bit. She knows they can’t get her, but she really doesn’t like being barked at. I get that. I’m there to walk next to her and remind her that she’s okay. And, she is. They didn’t hurt either of us; the fence protected us from them.
I know where Denali is coming from. There is a really loud voice that’s throwing me for a loop right now. It causes me some anxiety and fear. Like those dogs, it’s just a voice. She can’t get to me if I don’t let her. I have to start building a fence in my mind to help keep her back a bit. Whenever I hear how loved I am, or that this isn’t really about me, or you are so good at what you do, that fence gets a little longer and a little taller. The bark is still there, I still hear it; but the fence helps create a bit more distance than there was before.
This walk also reminded me that I’m the only one in these boots. Sure, some of us have similar personality traits or childhood memories. Some of us work in similar careers or went on the same trip. However, no one has experienced of those things exactly as I have. My journey is unique to me – only me. No one else has heard everything I’ve heard. No one else has heard all the opinions or advice. No one else has my exact temperament or was raised exactly as I was. My response to this situation is mine and mine alone. Sometimes I wish I had thicker skin or didn’t let that voice seep into my thinking as much as I do. With some conversation and help, some of that can go away, but really, I don’t want to change who I am at the core. I am sensitive. I care what people think and say about me. I am empathetic and feel the worries of others. These things make me who I am.
So, I got my steps in today. Although I even chastised myself for “only” walking instead of doing a 3-mile run like my schedule said I should have done. I also ate an Oreo ball when I got home, which may have just regained the calories I just burned. Certainly I would be kinder to you if you told me about the last few hours of your day. Maybe I can find a way to share that same kindness with myself. It’s all a balancing act – maintaining that center of gravity is hard and sometimes just not worth it. Back and forth I go, slowly making my way forward.
I love when I can look back at my own writing and learn from my past self. She is me and I am her – and yet, we’re two different people.