Some days we just want to crawl into our shell and stop showing up in the world! We give in, for a moment, to those feelings of “I just can’t keep on keeping on” or “I can’t do this”. And instead of plowing forward on the path you have already set, towards your goals, you simply find a hole and burrow down into it.
I’m sure that you’ve been there: Maybe it’s a Netflix binge, or sleeping all day. Maybe it’s throwing yourself into cleaning the house, while binging on Netflix (which is more or less what I did a week or two ago).
It’s not that I didn’t know what to do. I knew what I was supposed to be doing, and I had spent hours over the weekend creating a framework and space within which I could work. I scheduled all my social media posts for more than 2 weeks – so that for these two weeks I could simply WORK and not worry about whether or not I was consistently posting on social media.
In fact – I know what I am meant to be working on for the next 60 days, in order to complete the 90-day plan for the start of 2019. In order to create for myself some space, I have done very intentional work, automating some of my “showing up” in social media, so that I wouldn’t actually have to be online in social media.
But as soon as I had a two-week block of time suddenly open ahead of me – I froze! Knowing that I finally had space – overwhelming!
While I was in the “busy” stage of creating the space within which I could work – I was happy and focused. I worked tirelessly on creating the social media and organising the scheduling of it all. The moment that I created the empty void within which I could work on my big projects: all my fears jumped up and said “you can’t do it”. When I finally got rid of all my excuses, all those little tasks that were keeping me “busy” – time now to step up and step out – procrastination steps in!
So, how did I maturely respond? I retreated and crawled into my shell (cleaning the house while watching a marathon of Netflix, because, well, my house needed cleaning and there were piles of laundry to fold and put away). But the reality was – I didn’t clear my schedule of busy-ness in order to do that!
When you are in that hole: what makes you come up for air and reconnect with your motivation & drive?
It’s not always easy, when you are in a funk, to step up and step out: I’m not saying it will be! That funk, for me, was overwhelm. I simply got overwhelmed with the magnitude of what I am trying to create! In order to create what I have set out to create in 2019, I have to show up as a better version of me! And those shoes feel so big!
I am NOT beating myself up. Monday – I woke up as planned at 3.30 a.m. to finish working on a project, and lay back down after 5.30 a.m. when it was done, so that when little miss 5 awoke, I would be laying in my bed where she could find me. This morning, I woke up at 5.30 a.m. – and then sat down at the computer and started writing. In the midst of all of my chaos – I took the dogs out, I watered my plants (essential in the dry season if I want them to live) and I spent some time with little miss 5.
And then, February 8th happened, and I got knocked off my perch. As I processed my feelings, I wrote about the abuse at New Tribes Mission boarding school. And then I wrote about my personal survival techniques for staying under the radar, as well as my personal pain & guilt of survival.
Nonetheless, there is something really bothering me. This year has been about stepping up and stepping out. Stepping out of playing small – of sabotaging myself – of procrastinating. And yet, I do it.
The million dollar question: What needs to change?
Pause. This is an ingrained pattern of behaviour. Any time I am scared of being noticed.
What else can I observe?
Synchronicity – life just happens. Late last year, I started a program called “Foolproof Freedom“. It follows the 12-steps program, but all about facing and healing our emotional and spiritual trauma. When we did the inventory, we did our inventory of fears and resentments – what did we resent about other people? And what did we fear?
Over and over… the pattern of resentment that I discovered:
I fail to speak up and stand up for myself.
I fail to step out into the limelight, and prefer to hide in the shadows, where I will not be seen or noticed. It’s safer when you go unnoticed.
I’m not really mad and resentful at the other person. I’m really mad at me – because I failed to put healthy boundaries. I failed to stand up for myself. I failed to speak my mind and ask for what I needed. I allowed myself to be bullied and beaten, and only ended relationships for self-preservation, rather than building a good relationship from the beginning.
Others would walk away from relationships, feeling that I had let them down – because they grew accustomed to a certain form of behaviour from me, and when I couldn’t give any more, I would end the relationship. They weren’t really bad – just I never said “no, I’m sorry, I can’t or won’t”. Until it was all too much. And not knowing how to have those difficult conversations, it was simply easier just to end and say goodbye.
Always the wounded healer.
Pouring from an empty cup. Never enough left for me to get any. Until I was burnt out and empty.
And then, as I said, the NBC news happened… and I started writing about that and my feelings and memories. When I reread what I wrote about my survival techniques – it was about getting through, unnoticed. It was never rock the boat. Never stand up taller than anyone else or be noticed above everyone else. Never speak up.
What can I see?
And so, right before me – side-by-side – my inventory of resentments and this pattern of behaviour of “you never speak up for yourself” – and this survival technique that I perfected through years of boarding school. Always ready to hide in the background, rather than step up and out with courage.
A survival technique that served me well at the time, and now is crippling me.
“The problem is that most trauma is not just a single entity: Most trauma is really three forms of trauma. The first form of trauma is ‘what happened’ – the trauma you remember.. This is what most people think of as the trauma.
But trauma is much bigger than that. The second form of trauma are the protections you used to survive the trauma—the ways you changed yourself—your personality, your beliefs, your behavior– to protect yourself from ever feeling that helpless, afraid or ashamed again. These protections helped you survive, but they often also rob you of the life you want, the relationships that could sustain you, the joy in life that may be around you but you can’t take in.
And the last form of trauma is the most invisible: it is what didn’t happen. It is the growth, development, experiences that didn’t happen while the trauma and aftermath were occurring. It is what was missed. It is what wasn’t learned.”http://gretchenschmelzer.com/blog-1/2018/9/28/it-really-happened-and-we-need-to-heal-from-it
So right now, where am I at?
I’m recognising the 2nd and 3rd types of trauma – the survival technique that I learned is now crippling me, and the behaviours and ways of being that I failed to learn then, that might have served me well now.
Tonight, as I look at the gorgeous full moon above Panama City, I realise that I have a choice:
- Release this old learned behaviour, learning a new way of responding to the challenges that life throws my way; or
- Continue to respond in the old way, and always have the same results.
I think it’s time for a transformational change!