Diving right in shall we?
What has transpired since last she wrote? Well A PODCAST for one thing. Are you listening to my dulcet tones yet? From time to time I have brilliant, funny, wise and altogether delightful guests joining me too. It’s called Mental Notes from My Minivan. I’ve really enjoyed producing it. Maybe you would enjoy listening to it? Or not. If you prefer the written word, that’s cool. I gotchu.
Since I left you. It’s been a tempestuous and eventful little journey. The last couple of years have offered no shortage of The Drama. Most of it played out (when it played out publicly, and most of it did not) on Facebook and my podcast In time, I plan to consolidate some of those posts onto the blog because some really painful yet necessary topics were addressed and those painful stories, discoveries and lesson learned turned out to be helpful and healing to not just me and some of my family members but many others. That’s the weird thing about pain and drama. The lessons are usually pretty powerful.
Right now I’m in a fairly stable upward trend. Yay! I have had no shortage of Resistance though. Life has been creative and relentless is helping me to get through a non-stop barrage of triggers, situations and circumstance to test my new found growth and stability. There are blips and even valleys. Hard moments and super sad days. Sometimes weeks. But I haven’t gone back to where I was. I attribute that to many things. Therapy, hard work, vigilance about all the things that help my mental health. But if I had to be concise it would be an increased understanding and acceptance of Resistance and my duty to look it in the eye and fight against it as though for my life. Because in fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I get one life, and I’m fighting for the best shot at it.
Resistance is the one thing we can all count on from the moment we are miraculously conceived to the moment we die. And it’s a pain. And if we acquiesce to it we will shrivel up and atrophy. But it’s also what makes the whole thing in any way worthwhile. I think it’s truly important to recognize that we ourselves as human beings are programmed to vigorously resist the type of growth that will feed our spirits and make our souls (and bodies for that matter)better. Because that sort of growth comes with risk. It comes with getting out of our safe zone. Our comfort zones. And our brains are wired for survival. They don’t want us to do anything but be SAFE and so we are going to come up against immediate resistance every single time we try to circumvent that programming for growth. Which is why it’s really best not to overthink things. Make choices as to what will best serve us, commit to them and then just do the damn thing. (Just Get the Bloody Thing Done is the title of the first episode of my podcast. Just sayin.)
A little example if you will. So yoga. You know I’m a long-time fan and I’ve been doing yoga for many years. But since last Thanksgiving I have committed to doing it daily. As in Every Damn Day. I’m trying not to skip a day for a whole year. We’ll see. The benefits have been myriad but more on that later.
There’s this one pose. It’s not that hard really. I mean it’s not the most basic pose, but it’s not something you have to go to India for a year and meditate in silence to master either. And for years now I’ve been trying to get that damn thing down. And for years I have been able to get it. But only barely. Like I get up there for a second or two but it never felt the way it’s supposed to feel. In yoga we talk about “floating” and there was nothing floaty about this. It was sheer force of will and a hell of a lot of work and no fun. I could tell that when I was doing it I was essentially faking it and it made me quite cross.
Why? Because come on. I’ve done yoga for ages I should be able to do this. I have sufficient core and arm strength. I’ve got good balance. I’ve certainly put in the time. So what the hell? Well. First of all hello. If something isn’t working for you don’t keep trying to do it the same way. Enter youtube. Looked up the pose and started doing drills for it from a variety of instructors . Everyone had a slightly different emphasis on what was important and it was helpful. I gathered the info and was literally poised in position one day when the next video cued up automatically. Someone I hadn’t listened to before. She covered the physics of the pose which was helpful but what I really, really needed to hear came right as I was in position…
“You have to go one inch past scary” she said. “that’s when your feet will automatically lift off the ground. You won’t need to use your core as much to haul them up. They will just float.
“And then you need to look forward. Don’t look down or momentum will have you landing on your face. If you prefer to land on your face, look down. I prefer feet so I look forward”
And then came the piece de resistance:
“Once your feet have floated up and you are looking forward..commit to the pose. So often people will find themselves just coming into the pose and back out. Their feet want to be on the ground. She called it the Wiley Coyote effect. When the coyote runs off the edge of the cliff and he’s floating just fine…and then he looks down, starts pedaling his feet frantically and falls. So be sure to stick with it once you get into it.
As she was talking, I got myself properly into position as I had in so many attempts before, but this time was different. I looked forward, and then….I shifted one inch past scary. And instead of freaking out that I was going to face plant I now knew that it being scary meant I was on the right track. And Then….Suddenly I was doing it. I didn’t need more strength or flexibility or longer arms or stronger wrists or any of the things I had sadly decided were the problems here. I had always had everything I needed.
But now I knew that I needed to be:
-Going One Inch Past Scary
-Committing to the pose.
With those three things in place…suddenly was floating. Finally.
This 43 year old women suddenly had the exuberant buoyancy of a 7 year old. I leaped out the pose jumping up and down with pure unmitigated joy. “I’m so damn proud of myself!” I kept exclaiming to my husband. All day I kept practicing like a baby who had just learned to walk finding it so liberating and thrilling.
It didn’t take long for me to see how this experience was analogous to, well pretty much everything. To my journey to healing. To the breaking of cycles which keep me from where I want to be. When things aren’t working out for me despite having all the pieces in place for them to do so it’s usually for one of these same reasons:
When I fail to look forward: Accepting the limiting and false beliefs that I have about myself which are rooted in childhood. Accepting trauma triggers and accompanying emotions as personality flaws rather than the temporary things they are. Not controlling my subsequent thoughts and actions and allowing emotions to ride the bus. Acting out in ways which served me as a child for survival rather than moving into adult cycles of behavior which serve me now.
Failing to go that one inch past scary. To be honest all the therapy I have done has been a non-stop exercise in going several miles past scary and I’ve been getting better at this all the time. But there are many areas in my life where I am desperately afraid to fail and so I sit paralyzed and doing nothing. Going one inch past comfortable. One inch past “known”. One inch past a sure thing. One inch past safe is what is ultimately necessary to float and fly. I have a huge deal of resistance to all of these things. A lot of that is tied up to C-PTSD and some of it is just habit and straight up garden variety human laziness. That wiring to stay safe and familiar. This is why I’m trying to make it a daily discipline to intentionally go one inch past scary, safe, comfortable in just one area of my life. You don’t have to become a sky-diver overnight but you can truly change your life if you go one inch past scary in some way every single day.
Failing to commit: You guys. Bad news. But you need to know. Nobody is coming to save us. Nobody is going to do the work for us. Good news? Life is full of resistance , but it’s equally full of opportunity and help. If we don’t grab onto the opportunities and assistance and then commit to doing our own work. We are just going to continue to fall back out into our old safe, non-floating ways. Truly committing is hard. Tedious. It’s the behind the scenes, doing it even when you don’t feel like it. It’s the grind. Commitment isn’t glamorous but in and of itself but once we actually commit and stick with it maybe for a long time...that’s when the float comes.
Look forward, go one inch past scary, commit to it and fly high babies! Until next time
PS: Lots more good stuff in this vein on the Going One Inch Past Scary episode. Click to listen!