in and out

Despite how hard I try, most days, self-care is this elusive phantom I’m always chasing.  Whether it’s concerning my health, my work, or love, I always feel like I’m throwing myself under the bus.

This week was not pleasant.  I’ve been dealing with seasonal allergies that caused a sinus infection that aggravated my asthma, so breathing–which is so essential for feeling like you’re in your body–was kinda difficult.  Breathing is difficult for me, anyway.  I’ve always been one to take shallow breaths, hold my breath, or just plain forget to breathe.  My breath has also been something I’ve been perpetually self-conscious about, and I think that’s one reason I’ve been like this.  I don’t want people to hear me breathe.  Because I have this condition that makes me vulnerable and visible and different.  Oh, bother.  A nightmare for someone who just always wanted to disappear.

For a long time, that self-consciousness caused me to avoid working out around people.  Which meant working out at night–when people weren’t around.  Or not at all.  It also facilitated disconnecting from my body.  And it made it harder to regulate my moods.

When I started therapy, the first thing we did was breathe.  When I started rolfing, the first thing she did was open my chest and instruct me to breathe into my belly.  I’d never done it before, and I sort of freaked out.  It was so different.

A funny thing happens when you breathe deep.

  • Emotions surface.
  • You feel pain.
  • The pain leaves you.
  • You feel your life force.
  • There’s more energy.
  • You get strong.
  • You sit taller.
  • You become present.
  • And things are just easier.  Better.

###

It’s no coincidence that I had respiratory issues this week.  My lung problems are always around, but they’re much worse when I’m stressed out.  When I’m not on the list.  I had a really, really challenging goal this month.  I didn’t think I’d make it; I never do.  But I did–on Thursday–though I may have one thing fall through–which will make the rest of the month crazy.  Knowing that it wasn’t guaranteed, and knowing that I missed that one day, I went on autopilot–overbooking myself to the nth degree.  Which I know I shouldn’t do.  But there I was–on Wednesday, Thursday, and today–all booked up.

It’s like trying to outrun the boogeyman.  Only the boogeyman lives inside you.

What was it about this goal that was so important that I would work myself to death?  No one would judge me if I didn’t get it.  I’ve been #1 in the company since December.  I’m up for a raise and a promotion.  I have proven myself.  I prove myself every day.  No one would be disappointed.  And really–I worked just as hard as all those other months–maybe harder.

But it isn’t about anyone else.  It isn’t about the bonus–which is great, but hey–I’ll live.  It’s about me and proving that I have the right to be here.  Showing myself that all the setbacks that were beyond my control didn’t reflect on who I was.

It comes out, of course, as perfectionism and control freak tendencies–because that’s how I cope with such feelings.  That’s my go-to.  And even though I knew I really shouldn’t do this, and even though it didn’t actually matter–I felt compelled and so I did.

It’s an odd thing because–in some ways–I have made so many strides in healing this part of myself that drives this behavior.  But in so many other ways, I feel like I need to intervene and disrupt my own status quo.

So, tonight, I did that.  I sat in the bathtub.  I drank breathe easy tea with raw honey.  I wrote and read.  I stayed in and was intensely good to myself in a way that said–this week is done.  It’s your turn.

It may take a million of these nights, but every time I choose me, I get better.

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