step by step

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it occurred to me today that perhaps life need not be lived at break neck speed. maybe sometimes it’s better to choose the pace of the tortoise instead of the hare.

i’ve been absent. not because i wanted to be, but more because i didn’t know how to be anything but. the past month has offered up a lifetime of learning and feeling and a wealth of experience that, while the desire waxes and wanes, i’m not convinced i will ever share publicly. it’s just too precious and too much my own.

as part of my recovery, i am becoming aware, and for the first time in my life, of the need to treat myself more gently. my tendency is to go hard and go long. that means a lot of action, a clang of noise and minimal downtime. i put a lot of balls up in the air and, while it’s satisfying when they start to come down and fall into place, the trade-off time of anguish and frustration while they spin out of my control – the part i used to find so thrilling – isn’t feeling as rewarding as it once did. at least not for now.

truth be told, i like to be soft and vulnerable. some of that enjoyment may come from the foreign feeling it provides. i can be some kind of a hard ass and that tendency is so ingrained in me, it’s challenging for me to switch away from it and uncover my more subdued side. i don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that it’s only since i found a partner who can nurture that child in me that i’ve been able to really accept it. that i know kevin will always take care of me and hold me close makes it possible. his protection allows me to let my guard down.

life can be hard. i don’t mean that in just the sense that bad things happen. for certain, they do. but it’s also true on a grander scale. people are rough with one another, disregarding the feelings of others and the shoes they might be walking in. it was an eye opener for me to carry on with life this summer while secretly suffering inside. when i could overlook the pain, i sometimes felt almost smug in imagining how everyone else could see what was going on outside of me but never in a million years guess what had taken a stranglehold of my body and soul. other times i wanted to just get right up in someone’s grill shouting about how easy they had it in comparison. it made me much more conscious of how little we know about others and what kind of winds may be blowing in their worlds. it warned me to take that into consideration.

we are, in general, pretty hard on one another. if you’re anything like me, you know what i mean when i say that i am probably hardest of all on myself. for all of my bumps and bruises, i’ve been trying to carry on with life as i’ve known it (à la: suck it up, already!) without ever taking time to affix a bandage or two and tend to my wounds.

i realized today that this isn’t optional. some self-administered tlc needs to start now.

as step one, i’m launching an experiment that involves a severe regression of my life in general. it’s a simplification and it begins with one resolution.

do one thing at a time

it came to me while focusing on a very pressing afternoon task: napping. contemplating my exhaustion and undeniable (and uncharacteristic) need to sleep most afternoons these days, i wondered at the things i’ve been feeling of late. overwhelmed was a definite theme. my new and magical little mantra came to me like poof! before a sequence of my daily events played in my mind and the solution seemed so obvious i was a little embarrassed it had taken me so long and so much to realize.

to me, that means slowing down and taking things easy. it means focusing on only the one single task that i have designated my momentary intention. no matter how minor, i am committing to taking the pressure off, expecting only what is reasonable out of myself and loving me for what i can accomplish instead of concentrating on everything i didn’t or how it could have been better. it also means knowing what i can do. i have a terrible tendency to bite off more than i can chew: to agree to do more than i can reasonably fit on my plate, to underestimate the time i have or to overestimate how long it might take me to do it the way i’d like. for my heart, for my mind and for my body, i need to rethink my commitments. and for the time being, i have only the desire to commit to what is tangible, to what we have here: to me, to him and to us.

my most recent darling little queensberry bouquet

practice: naptime ran over and after getting back on my feet, my first few baby steps in singular, focused actions included making the bed and then taking a bath. by the time i got around to starting on supper things were getting dicey. i knew what time we needed to leave the house and a quick look at the clock verified that i couldn’t do it all. i made the clear decision then: i didn’t have the time to do it right and still enjoy it. when kevin strolled in the door, fully expecting the meal i had promised, i apologized to him and got a little teary as i explained. “i need to go a easier on myself and i’m sorry, but i didn’t have time to make dinner. i could have tried to get it done, but i would have ended up being rushed.” (he knows that rushed is the ickiest of all the feelings in the world. for me, anyway.) my entirely irrational fear hinted that he might be upset about my unfulfilled offer or angry at having to spend money we hadn’t planned to if he wanted to eat before his meeting. instead, he took me in his arms and told me “that’s good, babe. you don’t have to make dinner every night. you don’t have to make dinner any night. we’ll figure something out.” and we did. later, across the kitchen table from one another, we smiled over tuna fish sandwiches and took turns sharing our stories from the day.

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