Sunday evening I got a group email from Danielle LaPorte titled Swallowing your words, paying rent in hell, and maintaining appearances. Why we make (unhealthy) compromises.
"We compromise -- we swallow our words, keep paying rent in hell, and maintaining appearances, because we're afraid that we won't get what we really want if we... really tell the fucking truth, choose joy over pain, and show up as ourselves. But if we don't really tell the fucking truth, choose joy over pain, and show up as ourselves... we'll never get what we really want."
Her words have been swirling around in my mind sweeping over my thoughts & memories.
I am a swallower.
I swallow down my truth.
I swallow down my words.
I swallow down my emotions: anger, cutting words, disappointment, rage, fear, and sadness.
I also swallow down my decisions. I do not like finding the courage to speak my truth or my decision and being faced with defending & explaining them.
I have not yet become comfortable just stating, "My gut tells me this is the best decision for me."
My experience has been that if I can't properly defend my choice or if my argument is not based mostly in facts then I am invalid, that I am wrong. I did not grow up in a home being told that decisions should be made based on your gut feelings and that you can trust them. I was not told it is okay to make mistakes, that they are part of the learning process. I did not learn that facts are what you use to justify your choices to other so they will agree with you and leave you alone to live your life.
I did not grow up in a home where things made sense. I grew up in an home of alcoholics where it was best to not rock the boat, where mistakes were huge problems, where logic was slurred and irrational and where excuses were made for every one and every thing.
Learning that I am a swallower late in life has made my body very sick. Swallowing down has taken a huge toll on my body physically.
I am an enabler & co-dependent, aka a fixer. Give me a mess and watch me take action. Give me someone else's emotions to tip toe around, while ignoring my own and I sigh a huge relief because I know this game and have played it hundreds of times. Shuffle shit up, Tetris shit into the closet and close the door (and pray no one opens it), if I move fast enough and keep all of the plates spinning, then my life seems normal. From a distance, with your head cocked slightly to the left, with the sun in your eyes, it appears that my life is freakin fab-u-lous and parts are.
That is the kicker, some parts always are fabulous.
I am beginning to see that when I feel the need to weigh the good against the bad, I need to set the scale down and walk away. Nothing I want in my life should require me to make a list of whether or not the good out weighs the bad. Finding myself sitting there with list in hand needs to be a huge sign that my life is completely out of whack and that I have made several, bad compromises and swallowed too much down.
What do I fear will be the outcome if I said and did what I need to do? I am afraid I will upset the world, that I will send those I love into a downward spiral from which they will never recover. I am afraid that I will have to explain myself. I am worried that without my assistance, the people I love's worlds will crash and burn. I am afraid I will be blamed. I am afraid I will be deemed unworthy & unlovable. I am afraid that I will be judged selfish & ungrateful. I am afraid that I will find out that I am nothing special. I am afraid that if I only focus on me, then I will have no one to blame when I fail.
I am afraid I will fail and everyone will tell me I should have just "made do".
The problem right now is that things have been churning and burning for long enough that I can feel the bubbling up that means an eruption is near. I wish that I could push it all back down and take the time to deal with one swallowed issue at a time, but that is not how the science of this works.
So, some shit is about to explode up & out of me and it is never pretty like volcano erupting on Discovery Channel, unfortunately, it is much more like projectile vomiting from a horror movie.
The only cure for swallowing is speaking my truth and while I am taking small unsteady steps that direction, I have decades of unconscious habitual swallowing to rehab. Each morning I wake up with the clear thought in my head that today I will speak my truth, all day, not just when it is easy. Some days I speak my truth all day and it feels really good. Some days I swallow so much you can hear my guts rumbling from two rooms away, but each day I wake up remembering that it is a new day. Each day I start again.
All I know to do is to keep showing up.
I know that the only cure for the vomiting is to say what I need to, without fear.
It is my truth and if I want other's to love and accept me, then I have to love and accept me too!
For more of Danielle's insight & inspiration, head over to her web site http://www.daniellelaporte.com/
"Love everyone. Trust Few. Paddle your own canoe." Anonymous page 149 The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
If, like me, you are a fixer of things, people, relationships, and families, then I am going to tell you that the best way to fix everyone else is to mind your own damn business. Literally accept that you are not a fixer, you are a follower. To all of my fixer friends and myself this is some heavy crap to hear. I didn't fix shit, for anybody. I coped. I avoided. I juggled. I hid. I kept out of the way. I triage'd the hell out things. I made excuses. I reacted. I played small.
I did everything but fix. I had an illusion of control that gave me comfort in my world of chaos, but I was never in control. I did everything I could except the one thing that was in my power, which was to leave. I taught my children the dance of abuse and power and dominance rather than risk leaving and fixing my own broken self.
I am a control freak. I have lived so long in chaos, uncertainty, and fear that I crave routine and stability. I do not see wanting to be in control as bad. What sucks is when you come to terms with the fact that while you are presenting a front of wanting control, you aren't doing anything to take control. You aren't using logic or love. You are caught up in the whirl wind of the moment and doing nothing but trying to keep everyone together.
The most difficult lesson I am learning this life time is that I am the only person I can control. I cannot control my ex-husband. I cannot control my children. I cannot control my father. And really I am not all to great at controlling myself. It is way easier for me to jump into the storm with someone else and live in craziness than for me to give them a hug and say, "This is not the life I was put here to live. Thank you for the awesome views from the cyclone, but I am going to let you get back to your insanity."
I can be a good mother, friend, lover, and daughter, but I am only in control of me. I have to accept everyone else as they present themselves and decide how much of their journey I can be a part of and stay true to myself.
I am taking baby steps into A Course In Miracles through various books written about the course and feel in total alignment with the two main concepts I have been working on. #1. Love everyone. We are all God's children and he loves us all. Stop the judging, because you cannot begin to remember (yet) what you were sent here to live through and do. Just love everyone. Send love to everyone. Accept everyone is doing their best. #2. Forgive everyone. Stop choosing to carry the yesterday with you into the future. Forgive and move on. Stop drinking the poison and shed the ugly.
In Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection, she speaks of if you are lucky, you have a small handful of people you can share your truth with. She even tells you how to spot the people to stop telling your truth to. I agree that if you are lucky, you find that you have maybe 5 people tops that you can share your whole story too. 5 people who you can say anything to without any worry of their response. I am finding that in my handful of people, there are things that the common ground I have with them allows me to share stuff that I cannot utter around another soul.
Think of the ugliest, darkest, most private part of your being. Don't say it out loud, but think about it. Feel the shame rise up your cheeks and feel your face get hot. Who can you call to share this with? If you do not have one person who you can call, get this book and read it. You have to find your person. You have to make this connection. Your life will be so much greater if you do.
It truly does damage to your soul when you share with people who aren't your safe people. In mere seconds, they can inflict so much unnecessary damage. This is a brilliant book for settling into your own skin, loving and accepting yourself and hugging your big ole shame monster and making him feel welcome at the dinner table.
I also believe that it is best to share slowly. Test the water. Then
"The first time someone shows themselves to you, believe them." Maya Angelou
Believe them. There is no reason not to and you have your own damn life to get back to living. Don't try to fix them and show them they are better than they see themselves. Thank them and move on. Don't get sidetracked on a new people cyclone from hell. Save your friendship for those, who over time, show their worthiness at being a friend.
"It's not about withholding. The withholding posture in any kind of relationship is just nasty and manipulative. Leave that for kidnappers and ransomers. Rather, incremental commitment is about being responsive to reality." page 150
Paddle Your Own Canoe
Some of the best advise my dad ever gave me was to have the key to your own house. It seemed very cool and grown up when I moved into my own apartment and didn't have a roommate. I loved living by myself and like many who live on their own, I spent my time reading, puttering around, and watching tv. It was the most fabulous year and a half of my life. I could sit and read an entire book cover to cover under my covers in my pj's. I could watch back to back foreign films reading subtitles. I could eat mac & cheese as a whole, complete meal.
It has taken me two decades since then to really understand what my dad was trying to tell me. While not having a roommate is still very awesome for the same reasons as it was when I was 20, at 43 it means focus on my self.
Paddle your own canoe, don't sit back, staring up at the clouds and wake up 10 years into the future and not have a freakin clue where you are or how you got there. It sucks when you hear that someone is not happy with their life. How could anyone be happy if they passively sit back not actively moving themselves toward their goals and happiness?
It seems that while I have always considered myself a master fixer, the truth is I am so very comfortable letting someone else paddle my canoe. I am very comfortable going along with the current and someone else's dream. Helping someone else reach their goals is so much easier than attempting my own. It is so much easier to see the faults and mistakes of someone who is actually trying to reach their goals than to risk starting on your own path.
It is easier to stay busy and help than to sit quietly and figure out what you really want. It is also way easier to just go along than to start the argument that you are not enjoying the trip, that the canoe is making your butt hurt and after looking at your own personal compass that you, mid trip have figured out that you are going in the wrong damn direction.
It is way easier to be a "fixer" than to be a "doer".
It is way hard to be in charge of your own life. To actively make decisions, good or bad and too keep moving forward.
It is so easy to leave one relationship and replace it with another of the same "need fixing" sort. It is really hard not to look for distraction. But remember, that if you could not fix the last one (or 5) and have found yourself alone, your whole life in a big heap on the floor. This is your chance to fix you. You are the common denominator in the parts of your life that aren't working. Time to see what being a fixer really entails.
Step 1: Identify the problem.
Step 2: Identify some possible solutions to fix the problem.
Step 3: Collect the tools and items required to fix the problem.
Step 4: Create a written plan.
Step 5: Have it reviewed by either your trusted few or a professional.
Step 6: Do it. Actually fix it.
Anything else is avoidance. Anything else is sitting on the side lines and choosing to let someone else be in control of your life. Anything else is choosing not to live your best life. Anything else is you saying to the world, I am not worthy or deserving.
I was not in charge of most of the first 43 years of life. I went along, smoothed things out, prepped for the next fire and white knucked us all together in some true insanity. In making the selfish choice to divorce, I took the hard steps to start this process. I am not kidding when I state that I have to remind myself daily to paddle my own damn canoe. It is way to easy for me to get sidetracked "helping" someone else. It is terribly difficult to carve out the time and resources to help yourself.
But every couple of days when I start to feel out of sorts and cannot figure out why, I realize that I am not not actively participating in my life. The feeling "out of sorts" is my reminder to take stock of what I am currently doing that is in alignment with me and my goals.
Self-care is the topic of another day.
"Love everyone. Trust Few. Paddle your own canoe." Anonymous