It’s been a few weeks since my last post and life has been quite full on lately. Spring has sprung and with it my social and family obligations have escalated. There are multiple new babies appearing in my circle of life and I’m happy to report that I have become a godmother (again). This time is a bit different though as my friend is a single mom so I’ve been extra involved.
I have written on this blog before about some of my issues around childlessness and lately I feel like I am in a good place with it. I adore my new little godson and part of me aches when I hold him but it’s mostly because I just love him so much. It’s taken me some time but I am starting to believe that not having children is the right path for me. I am fortunate to have godchildren, a stepson, a niece, a nephew, and more on the way who bring me so much happiness and joy. And although they add so much to my life, I have to say that I cherish the alone time I have too.
What I now know is that life ebbs and flows. Sometimes there are down times and low moments- I struggle at times with feeling bored and lonely and disillusioned with life. Then there are times that life feels full and busy and exciting.
Not only does life go through these cycles and changes, but so does my internal world. Even though my external life is busy and full right now, inside I have been feeling quite low and anxious. I have been struggling with feeling unmotivated. Every day after work I just want to come home and rest. I haven’t been exercising or eating very healthy. Maybe it’s because I have been so busy that those things have fallen off my priority list, but I am having a hard time getting back into things.
When I don’t eat well I don’t feel well. Which, of course, makes perfect sense! But I think we tend to overlook how much what we put into our bodies impact us. When I eat too many processed things, sugar, and dairy and not enough fresh clean plant based foods, I feel lethargic and depressed. And because I feel lethargic and depressed, I make poor choices, and want to sit around more, eating chocolate. The cycle perpetuates.
I have been full of anxiety lately. On the surface I am a pretty confident person but I came to the realization that I am so susceptible to what others think of me (or what I think they think of me). At work I often have to speak in meetings and I will re-play in my mind something I said for hours afterwards if I didn’t think it was well received. I had so much anxiety on the weekend while I was trying to coordinate multiple plans, I was exhausted by the end of it because of the self-imposed stress. Yesterday I sent out an email that was part of my recovery group chain and I agonized over something that was slightly misinterpreted. I wanted to crawl out of my skin I was so uncomfortable. No wonder I used to drink!
Luckily, last night I saw a post on social media from Tara Brach and thought I would have a listen. It was uncanny how perfect the timing was. The podcast was entitled “Freedom from Fear Based Beliefs” and I strongly urge you to check it out.
Through her talk I learned some important things. I learned that I felt anxiety all weekend because I was afraid of failing. I put so much pressure on myself to organize things and have everything be perfect, and I have this anxiety that something is going to go wrong. She talked about our human ‘negativity bias’ (which is part of the flight/fight/freeze brain which is meant to protect us from scary life-threatening things) and also how some of us are more hardwired for anxiety than others.
The thing I realized is that I could have gone through the whole weekend not feeling anxiety and things still would have turned out fine. It’s like I think the anxiety and stress I feel is what helps to ensure I get things done. Which just isn’t true.
The other awesome thing I learned was that the stress I feel at meetings at work or around other people is based on some pretty disturbing beliefs. Brach did an exercise on the podcast which helped me to get to the core of what those thoughts are… and mine are things like “I am incompetent”. Brach asks the listener to question the core belief, asking “is this true?” Now this was really interesting because as soon as I questioned it, I immediately saw the falseness of it. It was almost comical. I mean, I might not be the best at what I do, the most experienced or talented… but I am not incompetent! Faced with that, it was like this stress I had been carrying around for days just started to loosen up.
Then Brach asks, “who would you be without this belief?” And I thought, “I would be happy!”
It was like freeing myself from a mental prison. Sweet relief.
So, the moral of the story is, do not believe all of your thoughts. Investigate the core beliefs that shape your internal world. Question everything.
The other moral of the story is, for me, it’s time to get back to basics. My meditation and mindfulness practice is not just some kind of pastime or lark- it is the part of the foundation of my well-being. I’ve been feeling too busy, or uninterested in my recovery group and work lately, thinking that maybe it’s not for me… but the truth is that I need it. I need that refuge from myself, my ego, my brain, my addictions. I need it to feel healthy and peaceful.
I also need to treat my body well. Eat more vegetables. Exercise. Basics. So I got some stuff to make green smoothies and planned a hike for the weekend. Yoga tomorrow after work. And right after I finish reading up on sober blogs, I’m going to go meditate for 20 minutes.
These are the ingredients needed to make my internal world well. So simple but so easy to forget!