It is a word to which I feel connected. It is a word that is all over my home and how I sign my emails and posts. It is a place and feeling I have been searching for for a long time.
It was not until the gift of the pandemic that I realized I have arrived into peace. It is a strange feeling.
When you live your life in hyper-vigilance and trauma for so long you forget when it feels like to really breathe, slowly and intentionally. I was talking to a friend the other day and said it is strange not to have to explain why I want to do nothing but knit or read. Why choosing to do nothing, or everything, in a day is liberating. Why sitting still feels so strange.
For years I killed myself in my home, as a mom and in my career. I was exhausted and made to believe that I was still not doing enough. “Why are you so tired?” (after teaching all day, driving kids all over, coaching, cooking dinner and doing other work) “What did you do all day?” (after keeping kids alive and out of the er, fed and happy all day plus house chores) “Why is (insert anything) not done yet?” (after doing all the things and fixing all the things and cooking all the things) I was conditioned to believe that I was not enough, I was not doing enough, and I was “lazy”. Yes, conditioned to believe those lies because I am a people pleaser (more on that trauma response later). I did not want to disappoint anyone. I did not want anyone to be angry with me so I killed myself….slowly and deliberately …. For the happiness of others.
What I failed to realize at the time is that I could NEVER make them happy.  The more I gave, the more they demanded. I had no boundaries.  Over the past 6 years, I have learned boundaries. I have learned balance. I have learned to honor myself.
It took a global pandemic to drive home the “slow down” message. I learned that slowing down to sit and knit, watch a whole movie, read a book or go for a long walk is ok. I am not “lazy” when I do those things. I am at peace. I do not have to be constantly moving. I do not have to give all of me in the name of the happiness of others. I do not have to explain my activity(or lack thereof) to anyone. I still want to make others happy (remember…people pleaser!) but I want to do it on my terms. It is not easy but I know what it feels like now to be at peace…..and I like it.


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This morning I had a socially distant coffee date with an old friend. We sat down and dove right in like no time had passed. We didn’t talk about politics, masks, or pandemics. We talked about stress, anxiety and the current status of our mental health. We talked about feeling disconnected and not focused. We talked about how were each had been forgetful and feeling “lost”. We talked a lot about anxiety. Anxiousness over our own health, our current state of employment, our seemingly endless loss of control and structure. I have has many similar conversations with friends recently.
Anxiety is natural and normal for most people. It is a fleeting feeling that comes and goes. Most people can manage it. However, for some people it is more than a an occasional feeling. It is a constant feeling that rarely goes away. It is taking the smallest thing and catastrophizing it into something horrible.
During a regular day, we are busy and have little time to think of all these small things. We are too busy living life and moving from one things to another. We also are surrounded by people that redirect those anxious thoughts and helps us remain on course. Now, during this pandemic, we have slowed the pace. We are alone, or with the same people, at all times. We have more time to think and “navel gaze” about what worries us. This becomes the proverbial rabbit hole. We start to worry about something and with nothing but time, we start to travel down that rabbit hole. Once that spiral journey begins it is difficult to crawl back out on your own.
People are posting all sorts of wonderful parts of quarantine….family dinners, game nights, etc. but is that the reality? We will never know and we should not hold ourselves to that standard. People I have spoken with are so concerned about judgement. We have become a society that is quick to snap off a post or comment that is filled with judgement. Why? Does that make us feel better? More superior? More powerful?
Mental health is an issue that I am passionate about as it so important and yet so taboo. People like medical issues that fit neatly in a box and have a cure. They like things they know and can see. Mental health is not the same for everyone. It does not manifest itself in the same way with everyone and there is no clear course of treatment that is the same for everyone. Say ‘Cancer’ and people understand. Say ‘Mental Health’ and people not only don’t understand, they downplay it, saying you are “crazy”. This drives the issues further underground and often makes them worse. Knowing we are not alone and not being judged is so affirming in so many ways. Reaching out for help, sharing your troubles, makes you more vulnerable but it also makes you stronger. You learn and you grow. You get better.
Does it all happen over night? Nope it takes work…lots of work…with yourself, with a therapist and with your friends. You are not crazy or lazy or silly. You are a feeling person in a changing world that is in need a support. Find your support system. Find those people that you trust and can listen, helping you address those uncomfortable feelings. I guarantee you that you are not alone!
If you are not sure who to trust, reach out. I am here. I will create a non-judgemental space for you to express yourself and listen to you. I will allow you to be yourself and see yourself in the most real way. I will help you move from vulnerability to validation. Scary? Sure. But isn’t everything worthwhile scary at first?
I am here and together we move forward in the healthiest way possible.