One Small Step for...
Ok, let's have a really honest moment here - YOU are the only one that matters when it comes to you and your mental health.
One thing that I have really struggled with over the years is the concern of what other people will think when I share something about myself. I had (and truthfully, still have) this fear that as soon as I tell people something about myself that I view as negative or unsavory I hide it. I put it away in a jar on a self and I let it sit there and rot. What a great visual - rotting, because that is exactly what it is doing.
I was reflecting last week on what a journey this has been. I started thinking of all the small, unsavory moments that I have been keeping in jars over the years - and that shelf is looking like it's bowing in the middle. You know, when the shelf looks like it's about to collapse and you know if you put another jar on that shelf it'll all come crashing down? Ya, that's what it was starting to look like for me. I spent the last week "cleaning house".
I have been taking the jars off the shelf and putting them into a few piles:
Toss - clearing out old trauma wounds that just don't serve me anymore and just need to be addressed and let go. I feel like this acknowledgement that you even put it on the shelf to begin with is key to letting it go. If you just chuck it without recognizing what it meant to you, why you even put it there in the first place - you will never really get rid of it. Honour and release! Celebrate the fact that whatever was in that jar doesn't serve you anymore.
To do - ok so I may have just spent the first four months of 2021 in therapy, but I know there are still some other things that I need to work through. I am in a space of recognizing that while I celebrate what I worked through and am wrapping up, I am not done. And that....is ok! Let's be honest - if we tried to work on everything all at once, without taking pause to celebrate progress and rest, we would all be nuts and hide from the world. So take a few jars off the bowing shelf and put them on the counter. Open them when you're ready to tackle what's inside, it's not a race.
Put back on the shelf - sometimes, we just need to quote Bianca Del Rio and say, "not today Satan!" It's perfectly fine to have things still on the shelf, that is what it's there for.
I just want to encourage you to go at whatever pace you feel is right for you. There is no right way or wrong way to deal with something that brought a trauma into your life. You set your pace! Movement forward is still movement. If it takes you a day to open the jar or thirty years to even pick up the jar and look at what you put in there - you still picked up the jar. You still chose to not let that shelf bow anymore and that's all that matters.
It wasn't too long ago I was sitting down with someone and chatting with them about what was going on in their life and all the different kinds of things that were happening. They stopped themselves and said, "you know what I am going through is nothing like what you went through." It made me stop and think - sometimes these jars that we put on the shelf mean so much more to us than we let on. We don't talk about them or deal with them and leave them up there because we feel like someone else's jar has something more rotten. We down play an incident that happened to us because we believe that someone had it worse. I know I am guilty of reading stories in articles or hearing what happened to someone else and thinking, "why am I being such a 'drama queen' about what happened to me when so and so had it so much worse." But sometimes those smaller moments are what hurt the most. Or the moments where we think that it was a nothing comment or action that leave the biggest mark.
I remember a time when I was (maybe) six. We were living in Jasper and my sister was playing with a neighbour girl. I asked if I could play. I remember her looking at me with dagger eyes and saying, "I don't like playing with you, you're bossy." A small nothing comment that I realize now left such a big impact on who I am today. I find myself worried about taking on leadership opportunities, not going for that promotion. Or if I am leading the charge in something, worrying if I am being too bossy or aggressive when in a meeting or following up on work. There's a voice stuck inside my head that is apologizing for speaking up or when executing projects. There is a big fear that I am too bossy but it goes against my nature - ever fiber of my being because I want to plan and execute to see it's success. I'm sure there are some people that may disagree with that statement, but they don't know what's going on in my mind. Or how I have a physical reaction after some meetings because I feel like I may have been too bossy and felt like I over stepped my authority. Truthfully the constant double checking to see if I was in the wrong or cracking a joke because I felt like I overstepped is draining.
The smallest phrase, said to me once when I was six helped shaped my being. I didn't even really recognize this until this week when I felt guilty for following up on something that needed to be done and was assigned to someone else.
In this moment, I acknowledge the bossy jar, thank it for the lessons and dump that shit out. It no longer serves me and I cannot hold onto to it anymore. I have big plans for me and it won't help if I am worried about being bossy.
That's the thing about life, we are each living a different experience. Someone else might not have even remembered being called bossy at the age of six and moved on. Someone else might have told that girl to fuck off. Someone else might have just laughed, or cried, or...whatever! It doesn't matter, because it was my experience and how it affected me shaped choices I made after that moment.
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, "comparison is the thief of joy." I'm going to modify that slightly,
Comparison is the thief of healing.
I am here to tell you - your journey is not less or more than my journey, because it's your journey. If I can ask you to do one thing right now, in this moment - I want you to give yourself permission to accept whatever space you are sitting in: happy, sad, numb, etc. And, remind yourself that it's ok to be there. No one is ahead of you or behind you. You're running a personal marathon and all these people that you may be comparing yourself to - are really just on the sidelines cheering you on (what a great little reminder to myself as well 😉).
So go ahead, pick up a jar or don't - you decide. After all, it's one small step for...you, and no one else.