“Your healthiness will hurt some people. I told you about this at the beginning, remember?”
My therapist is great. I’ve been seeing her for six months and three days, not that I’m counting, and I have been able to see and learn a lot about myself and the way I show up in the world in that time.
On this day, I had frantically sent her a text because I double-booked myself for the morning but couldn’t imagine not having our time. (See, life has been really, really hard lately, on both small and large scales, so I really needed her.)
I needed her because I moved (at a time in life in which I didn’t know I could have a house of my dreams still, hooray!) and started a new job (my old job, enhanced, hooray!) within the same week, which understandably caused upheaval within my family unit.
That stress has been ongoing, though it goes in fits and starts, but had mostly started to be manageable.
But then my stepsons turned 13, and some associated family drama within the blended unit made me feel like I just couldn’t anymore. I fell back into old patterns of food abuse. I cried through so many Kleenex in one night I started to think the box was like Mary Poppins’ purse.
So when my therapist casually tossed out that ol’ “healthiness will hurt” acorn, it felt ridiculous. The last thing I feel is healthy.
What I do feel is sick and sad and depressed and hopeless. I feel confused pain regarding the state of the country, I feel absolute white blinding rage at the recent decision to remove bodily autonomy from the uterus-containing population, and I feel mistrustful of all but maybe two politicians after a long period of time in which I championed and believed in my party.
I feel tired of swallowing my rage and pain and helplessness with situations I can’t change and chasing each with snacks. It’s also tiring to listen to the same arguments between the same people with no progress in benefiting those they represent. And I feel tired of feeling less than in my blended family.
I’m tired, boss.
But my therapist pointed out to me that what I saw as backsliding, childish fits, and unfixable situations was actually me facing things I’ve never faced before. These things were a result of setting…wait for it…boundaries. I set boundaries when I stood up for myself in my blended family situation. More boundaries when I did the work I had committed to instead of throwing it aside for someone else’s whim. Still more boundaries when I said that I couldn’t live with a situation that I had already lived through once, one that was so painful that typing about it just now, seven years later, made me burst into tears.
Healthiness will hurt. Standing up for yourself will hurt. And because you can only control yourself, there is a helplessness that comes when you see the reactions of those around you when they see your strength. You are not the you that you were when they knew you then. Your boundaries do not bend to the will of others when you understand the importance of setting them.
And when you see people who have always reacted in certain ways because you had previously bowed to their will react instead with rage/with sadness/with bewilderment, well, it’s hard. But it’s okay that they react the way they do because their journey is not for you. You cannot control them, and sometimes that’s hard. Who wants to go around controlling someone else? Ew. That’s just borrowing a whole lot of trouble you don’t need. And if they choose to be angry and guilt you because it’s easier for them when you fit into their box? Well, poor them.
The Huddled Masses
No matter how you feel about the world around you, you can only control your place in it. If it seems like there are too many starfish washed up on the beach, remember that as long as you saved one, you made a difference. All you have to do is the next right thing, and many times that means putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. Then you can breathe, and then you can help others.
Want to make a big difference but don’t know where to start in your little corner? Or maybe you want to work on your own healthiness before making a big difference (that oxygen mask!), but it seems insurmountable? Here are resources.
I’m here for you, and I love you. You can always reach out to me, too.