The Long Way Home
I've decided to take a long way home: a scenic route back to myself.
There's a country song called "I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)" by a band called Alabama. The song opens with these lyrics:
I'm in a hurry to get things done Oh, I rush and rush until life's no fun All I really gotta do is live and die But I'm in a hurry and don't know why
This song hits me hard every time I listen to it. Especially, those first few lines. It's taken me decades to catch myself doing this: rushing. I constantly have to tell myself to slow down. I eat too fast, exercise too fast, speed walk, talk too fast, and try to get things done as swiftly as possible. I want to see results immediately. I have this inner sense of urgency. I don't know what I'm rushing to exactly: all I know is I'm trying to get there as quickly as possible.
For the past few years, my focus has been extensively on getting well, and it's been educational. I've learned that many of the so-called innate things I do are not natural but acquired to survive: trauma responses that I'm unlearning. This never-ending sense of urgency is one of those things.
The truth is, I'm a people-pleaser: a recovering people-pleaser. I perpetuated cycles with the same types of people, trying to create a different outcome. A better result. As I said in a previous post: I kept putting cabbage in the oven, expecting to pull out a delicious apple pie. In doing so, I got lost along the way- terribly lost. My entire sense of self was intrinsically connected to what I could do and how I could perform for others. It's not that I didn't know what I liked and loved. I did. I yearned for those things. But I pushed them down and set them aside for the "greater good"- whatever that is. I completely lost touch with my needs. They were so chronically unmet by myself and others that it was just too painful to acknowledge that they existed.
I didn't have a problem making myself small because I never felt like I deserved space in this world. I grew up hearing over and over again that I was a mistake. A drunken night that resulted in the awfulness that is me. It was abundantly clear that as long as I was helpful and obedient, quiet and invisible, my existence in this world was less inconvenient. Perhaps this is my sense of urgency? Get in and get out as fast as possible to not disturb anyone. Things had gotten so bad: I sincerely apologized to my now ex-spouse for existing. His response was, "thank you, I appreciate that." I also remember speaking with a relative and saying, "I should carry a potted plant around to make up for all the oxygen I waste." They laughed and said, "you really should." These were pivotal moments for me. I finally started to wake up: I realized that everyone in my life at that point was a slightly different version of the same person. I had to figure out how the fuck I got here and how I was going to get myself out.
I had to take a good hard look at how I was showing up in all of my relationships (and in the world): getting the why is easy. Understanding and accepting that I am an active participant was a hard pill to swallow and an enormous relief. That's a delicate thing to tread because it can sound like you're at fault for being in shitty relationship after shitty relationship. Becoming conscious of your wounds and their role in your allowance of poor treatment is crucial. You can feel and know it's not right. You can feel and know that you hate it. But you stay because deep down you believe that is what you deserve- that's as good as it's going to get.
I had such a fear of abandonment, yet I abandoned myself time and time again. I didn't know what I would do without these people in my life. Do you know what I've done? Everything I want. Plus, my physical health has drastically improved: less acid reflux and so many fewer migraines a month now that I can't even believe I survived those years before this. I wasn't only mentally and emotionally unwell around these people: I was gravely ill. To give you an idea of how bad my physical health was, I was a candidate for MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) and- I was seriously considering it.
Look- I won't pretend that these thoughts and feelings of being worthless don't come back. They do. The difference now- I don't throw myself off the proverbial mountain hoping to knock myself back out and forget all about it. I'm no longer surrounded by these people or others like them. And I rarely associate with anyone who is still in contact with them. As isolating as that has been, it's been way more freeing than I could imagine. I don't have that knee-jerk reaction to appease someone if they don't like something about me. Think my hobbies are weird and sad? Okay. Think I'm a moron? Yeah, sometimes- makes for good stories though. Think I'm too woo-woo? Again, sometimes, it makes me happy. Don't have the capacity for what I'm going through? I respect and understand that.
I've stopped begging and chasing people to love me. That inner urge to prove that I deserve a spot here is different. Not to say that it's not triggered at times, but I'm aware of it and can stop and assess what's happening. Breadcrumbing and the bare minimum aren't attractive or appealing to me anymore. Where I once used to see that as a challenge, I recognize it as someone's limit and leave it where it is. I am way less resentful as a result. I see things as they are, not just what they could be.
That part of me that rushes through things wanted to take the shortest route possible to wellness. I thought, no, I will take a long way home. The road is less travelled. The road is full of mysteries and adventures. It's scary and awesome- amazing and awful, fulfilling and breathtaking. I'm learning to let go and let things be. I'm learning to slow down. I'm getting to know myself and learning to love myself.
Those parts of me that have travelled through my lifetimes rose from the ashes like a phoenix. I feel like every so often- they dare me to set fire to them again. Because- they will rise once again. Bigger. Bolder. They are the best travel companions. They've shown me the beauty in breaking and the glory in foibles. They're the rounding of sharp edges: a reminder to stay soft and gentle but remain tapped into a fierce resilience.