For Lent this year, I gave up conformity. I didn’t really know how this would play out. All that kept coming out of my therapy sessions was that I’ve spent my life conforming–and I was exhausted, and done. I needed to be done to reclaim my health & my worth.
One particular moment has kept coming to my mind off and on for the last month. I was 8 years old, and I was in my room, probably writing at my desk. My dad comes to ask me if I wanted to run at the State Track Championship, and I said no, even though I had just won all my races at a pretty big meet.
It was my last big intuitive moment I remember as a kid. I knew that competitions made me anxious; I didn’t really like them. I loved running and I loved practice, but I could do without the competition.
I said no, because I knew that I wanted time. Time to be free. Time to be a kid. Time to play outside in the woods, barefoot. Time to take walks and look at the stars. Time to shoot baskets. Time to write. Time to jump on the trampoline. Time to run around with my dog.
I was a kid who needed spacious time. I was a kid who needed time alone. Just because. Because I was worthy of that space. Because I needed spaciousness to be my best self. Because I always really resonated with that kind of silence and solitude.
The next year, I said yes to my dad’s request. I decided to become a very competitive runner. I attended the National Championships at age 9 for the long jump, and missed a National Medal by a 1/4 inch. At age 10, I won a National Medal in the long jump down in Orlando. These things weren’t bad in and of themselves. I made good friends. I got to see different parts of the State and the country. However, I did suppress the creative, intuitive part of myself. I became overly responsible, dedicated, hard-working—all to achieve this dream of returning to the National Track Championships year after year. For all of this, I received a lot of affirmation.
I didn’t play outside as much in the summer heat, because I had to reserve my energy for practice later that day. I ate in particular ways and at particular times because of my practice schedule. I was only 9 years old.
I didn’t know what was happening as a kid, but I do now. That part of me that was shy and dream-like thrived in solitude. I needed that precious time to imagine, to have no agenda, to just get lost in whatever I wanted to. I liked being with others (or bossing my sister around!), but I also liked being alone.
I’m reclaiming this aloneness now. I crave it, and I need it. Being alone in silence gives me great refreshment & joy, and up until recently, I’ve buried that part of me.
I didn’t believe that I was worth it. There are sneaky lies that creep up, both within myself, and the cultural structures around–that state in a myriad of ways that time for yourself is a selfish act. That to invest in my own healing and self-care is isolationist and arrogant.
Especially as a woman.
For as a compassionate, intutive-empath, others knew that I was loyal. That I would show up. That I was true to my word. That compassion though was not extended as much to myself, as I extended it to others. And it became overbearing and exhausting. But I didn’t know who I would be if I said no.
Because the thing is–my compassion and intuition are strong strengths of mine–and they are beautiful. And they need to be balanced out with my strength and my boundary-setting.
I have given my own energy, way past what most people were giving in situations. I have also taken on others’ energy as my own, for most of my life.
These last months of solitude for me have been about claiming my story, my version. Not the version that someone else is telling.
It’s been about seeing the acts of caring for myself, as incredibly generous both towards myself and everyone around me. See-we really are connected!
Me healing from my trauma in EMDR, is healing for everyone else that I come into contact with.
You see, I am healing for me–which of course affects everything.
I see clearly now, that to call self-care a selfish act is to believe that I am separate from everyone else when I take time for myself. This simply isn’t true.
I may just be able to see myself and everyone else more clearly, when I ground myself in the present moment and let go.