I am forgiving toward others, understanding of others, patient with others, and appreciative of diversity and uniqueness within humanity, my friends, and my family. . . yet I am relentless with myself. I set very high expectations and demand a level of greatness from myself that I wouldn’t expect from others. I know it’s unhealthy and creates unnecessary stress, and it’s something I’m consciously aware of on a daily basis. This mindset and approach to living was born out of dark and abusive times – a way of rising above and trying to gain control in an uncontrollable situation. I know the “when” and the “why”, and I also know it isn’t necessary anymore. I’m free of the abuse and unhappiness, but there are some lingering side effects and negative habits I’m still working to release. I literally feel guilty for relaxing, feel like I’m letting my children down if I feed them something simple (or god forbid, unhealthy), and I regularly go to bed disappointed in myself for all the things I didn’t accomplish and the goals that are still unrealized, while also feeling guilt for being so hard on myself.
I’ve been trapped in this dysfunctional status for years without recognizing that there was even a problem, believing that part of healing, learning, growing, and starting over was to be brutally honest with myself. I’ve been a self-help junky, practiced meditation and yoga, created healthy fitness and eating habits which have resulted in weight-loss and toning, I’ve created a new culture in my home with improved parenting and communication, I’ve deepened friendships and live with a very present, thoughtful awareness for everything I’m thankful for, and most of the time I feel very positive and hopeful about life, my goals, and my future. Yet I still suffer from disappointment, and punish myself for not being good enough. So it’s easy to say that I’m in constant contradiction with myself.
Then the world suddenly changed. Self-quarantine. . . social distancing. . . stay-at-home orders. . . whatever you want to call it, I’ve been home with my children since spring break started at the beginning of March. I work full time from home, two of my three kids are homeschooling, we eat, play, relax, fight, sing, dance, and cry together. . . everything happens inside our home, together 24/7. This season of change and challenge has brought to the surface all my weaknesses, fears, insecurities, loneliness, hopes, dreams, and goals. I’m in a bootcamp with my mind, body, spirit, willpower, parenting, patience, and energy. My desire to be self-reliant and do everything 110% has officially been tested and broken. Without the distractions of a fun office environment and a social life, I’ve had plenty of time to sit in silence with myself, and wow, I’m learning a lot! Maybe the biggest blessing in all of this has been improved self-talk; true kindness and love for myself, and an overall sense of peace in the middle of chaos. For the first time in many years, I go to bed feeling a sense of accomplishment (even though my house is a mess and there’s always something left undone), I’m finding ways to relax and give myself a break from responsibility (without feeling guilty), and I’ve let go of self-imposed expectations that were creating stress (without feeling like a quitter). In this season of isolation I set myself free from the “musts” and “shoulds”, and without knowing the outcome I created a new version of myself; a woman who is more hopeful, happy, lighthearted, and capable of living without guilt and regret. I believe peace is found through living in the moment, focusing on gratitude, doing your best, and showing yourself the deepest kindness and love.
Quarantine (the stresses of isolation and the excess of time alone), forced me to dig deeper into my hurt, nature, and expectations for life, family, and love. My willingness to pay attention, really own the negative ways I was treating myself, and feel all the feelings, ultimately allowed me break a dysfunctional mindset I’ve been battling for years. And let me tell you, it was painful, sad, and so hard to let go of ideals and habits created for self-protection. I’ve seen amazing things come out of dark times over and over again in my life, and this is another example of a lovely transformation motivated by uncertainty and hardship. I am thankful and excited to move forward as a healthier version of myself!