“Healing is a small and ordinary and very burnt thing. And it’s one thing and one thing only: it’s doing what you have to do.” Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, had to hike for months to get her own life. I have to write blog posts and a manuscript to get mine. It’s that simple and it’s that hard.
I blogged about my qualifications to write relationship posts in 2016 (What Qualifies Me? (writing about relationships)), knowing how unqualified I feel to write the second part of this year’s focus – getting your own life.
Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” An unknown author said, “Teach what you want to learn.”
I’m combining the two quotes. I know I’d like to learn how to get my own life.
I also know my husband and kids want me to learn. However, they are three of my biggest distractors, but that’s because of me, not them.
Lots of events happen to bring us to the point of willingness. One of those things for me was a friend’s question, “When’s it going to be my turn?”
Anytime her husband, her three adult children, or her extended family and friends need something or they have anything go wrong, she’s on their speed dial. She said, “I feel overwhelmed by their needs and confused about when to help and when to say, ‘No.’ There’s plenty I’d like to do, but when would I ever have time or energy after dealing with them and their lives.”
I would let the mailman derail my plans if he decided to tell me about his bad day. I’m not sure it’s because I’m compassionate. I think it’s more because I’m a coward. I am afraid to live my life.
I hated understanding.
I wanted to scream at her, “Why don’t you stop enabling everyone you know and get on with your life? That’s what would be most helpful to you and to your family and friends … seeing you live your life.”
Like Carl Gustav Jung said, “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”
Women tend to attend to others. It’s our maternal instinct whether we have children or not. Sometimes we want to help. Sometimes we’re expected to help. Sometimes we don’t know better; we don’t know we have choices.
I lived up to my title that I was voted in high school as “Most Dependable.” It’s not dependable, though, to throw up in the parking lot outside the door to my kindergarten classroom because I’m concerned about letting down my students. I ended up driving back home that morning feeling dizzier and weaker than on my way to school.
I lived this way for years. Stopping the insanity of being overly responsible for others was an initial step to getting my own life, but it wasn’t the end-all. Just because I stayed home when I was sick didn’t mean I was living my life.
Since the start of my writing career, I’ve watched myself like I imagine you’d watch yourself during an out-of-body experience. If my behavior weren’t so maddening, it’d be comical because of all the ways I distract myself from writing my manuscript.
After my daughter got engaged, I misinterpreted her busyness and fewer phone calls as meaning she wanted to plan her wedding without me. I felt left out. Who can write through these kinds of emotions?
When we straightened out our misunderstanding, we had a lot of wedding planning to catch up on. Who can write when overwhelmed with details?
When she got pregnant, she lived four and a half hours away. We agreed that I’d try to be there when the baby was born. When she got pregnant again, it was good that she had moved closer because my job this time around was taking care of their little one while she and her husband were at the birthing center. Who can write with deadlines more important than their own?
Our son’s wedding was the same year as our second grandchild’s birth. Who can write with this much going on?
My husband had two health scares the same year. He’s fine, but there were months of tests and stress. Who can write under this kind of pressure?
As significant as was each of these events, an abundant number of women live their lives and live out their purposes under circumstances as special, busy, and weighty. Being distracted from our lives doesn’t mean we love and honor others more. It means we love and honor ourselves less than we should.
Making my way back to my blog to write about distractions is an attempt at getting my own life and being more qualified to help others do the same.
What are you distracted by? What are you distracted from? What’s the first step you can take to getting your own life?
In This Together,
Image from Pixabay.com.