Monday, April 7, 2014

Giving Without Giving In

So much of what life is is other people. You know- those pesky expectations, the opinions. The things that upset them. The things they want, need, right now or next week that hairball up your own life.

We went camping this weekend. We had lots of laughs, some tense moments, some relaxing listening to the wind blow. Again and again I was reminded that my life does not need to be led by the leashes of other people. This sounds sort of cold and a little bitchy, but take that sound out of it and think of it as me taking off the collars and walking around free. Like putting myself first in the self full way and not the self fish one.

I started re-reading Eat, Pray, Love again after a lovely conversation with a dear friend last week. On the first night of our trip I came across this:

"All I had to do was ask myself every day, for the first time in my life, 'What would you enjoy doing today, Liz? What would bring you pleasure right now?' With nobody else's agenda to consider and no other obligations to worry about, this question finally became distilled and absolutely self-specific."

After I read it I squinched further into my sleeping bag and closed my eyes in happiness. I was doing just exactly what I wanted. I was in a cozy sleeping bag surrounded by my mostly sleeping people reading a goodbook with my headlamp. I felt my self get fuller, fatter- heart swollen with love and contentment.

Then I realized that I hardly ever please me. That I dedicate hours and days to making life easy for the people in my life, but I don't make my life a pleasure. This makes me feel like a control freak and ridiculous all at once. And also like I have way way missed the boat on this one. Living a life of imagined duty rather than one of willing restraints and freedoms. WTF am I thinking?

And so.....I decided things based on what I wanted. Want to go on a hike? Old answer: Oh, sure, if you want to. New answer: No. I want to lay on a blanket and listen to the wind. Want me to make you a cup of tea? Old answer: No, I'll get it. New answer: Yes, that would be so lovely of you honey. Mom? Can we watch another show? Old answer: No! That's enough. New answer: Yes, I have some more writing to do, so go ahead. 

Does it seem like I make all my decisions based on what other people might think is a good or better idea, but then my self is kind of sad and chin in hand hrumph'ing at the whole thing? I don't have to wait for your answer anymore since I can speak up for myself: Y.E.S. It sure as hell does.

Now, if you have already mastered this then I applaud you. I am having my very own one woman revolution over here about this- you mean I can pick? What I want? And people will still love me? 

Well.

I also cannot fail to mention that it is me myself that has gotten me myself in this spot in the first place. No one has huffed, puffed, or blown the house down over much of any of my decisions. I have pretty much always been a woman in control of my destiny. (Even when it was a wreck of a destiny) Strong willed but overly agreeable.

All of this self full-ness comes from the biggest decision I have ever made: the one I made 16 months ago today. I decided that even if I wanted to, or a party wanted me to, or my husband wanted me to, or America or Tuesday or spring and summer wanted me to I wasn't ever going to drink again. Ever. It took a while, but now I think I'm ready to be graciously selfish. I'm ready for other decisions that make my life a pleasure to inhabit. I'm ready to be me first. With love and gratitude and fullness, but me first. Because when my life is comfortable and easeful and sure then I can give that to the people in it. Giving without giving in.


19 comments:

  1. Bravo!!!!! My counselor told me it's not being selfish, it's being self caring! So care away girlie!! I still struggle too but I'm a lot better. Thanks for reminding me to be self caring. Think I'll go get a bowl of ice cream and my book! :)

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    1. I become more and more convinced that the better care I take of me the better care I take of everyone.

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  2. This is an on going battle in my life. The inkling that what I want matters is always in my mind....but sometimes it is so quiet that the other voices (my family) blare over it. I really really enjoyed reading this and I needed it today. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us.

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    1. I just need to learn to listen to that voice- hear it and obey it. Usually it's my own fuck it voice drowning out the sound of sense. Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for being here. It means a lot. Xo

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  3. Ha, absolutely, I think a lot of us have been in complete control of the train wrecks in our lives. How easy that was and yet how hard it can be to do the polar opposite! Congrats and wow and happy 16 months of awesomeness!!!

    ML

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    1. Controlling the train wreck- it just doesn't happen. It was certainly quite easy to let alcohol control it all- and such a hard way to live. Now it feels like i can get beyond the selfishness of being an active alcoholic, be actually self-ish, and make things happen. Thanks for the kuddos. :)

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  4. Genius! Still a lesson I'm learning but one worth working hard for.

    As much as we are the same I have found one area where we definitely differ. I do not camp nor do I have any desire to live off the grid. I love the grid...and TV, and blow dryers...

    But I have to admit that you made it sound very peaceful.

    Be good to my friend...she's pretty special.

    Sherry

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    1. This is one really worth practicing- it can allow freedom from all others ideals and catering to our self needs honestly and without guilt or malice.

      I am a nature girl through and through. :)

      Thanks for being my friend even though I don't really watch tv or dry my hair at all. :)

      You are special too! Xoxo

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  5. Oh my GOOOOOODDDDD I love this post. I love it. I love the image of you in your snuggly sleeping bag in your tent. I love the details about your wifey/mothery life which are so similar to mine. I love the symmetry and poetry and beautiful flow of your words that just seem to have been put together brilliantly and crafted just perfectly for this wonderful weighty, profound, complex yet beautifully simple post. And most of all I love that you got sober. You got yourself sober. Love xxxx

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    1. I often think of us living our mama lives so similar so far away. :)

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  7. Great post! I also notice I do more often what I want to and people still love me;-) Maybe even better. Before, when I drank, I was Always trying to please -and then feeling secretly resentful because I did'nt do what I really felt like. I think I did this because I was always a bit ashamed and feeling guilty.
    I also feel I have more to give now, giving without giving in: you said it beautifully, thank you!
    Love, N.Maya

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  8. This week I decided that I am not going to give up the chocolate chunks out of my trail mix to my cute 6 year old, who has some sort of sixth sense for snacks. I will take time in the late afternoons to write if I want, and I will continue to delegate more tasks like setting the table. No one but me insisted I do these things in the first place, and it's been a real eye opener how simple self care can be. Love the sound of listening to wind while snug in a sleeping bag. Beautiful post.

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  9. Hi Amy, I just came back from vacation with hubs and kids. We stayed with family. It was tough enough to be sober around all the drinking but what was worse is that my family dictated the whole vacation. They weren't cruel or mean they just didn't give me any space to be on my own and relax. Walking? I walk with you. Laying out by pool to read your book? I'll come out with you and drink my vodka tonic and engage in conversation... Going to movies with your family? Wait I took day off and I'll come with you but you'll have to wait because I still need to blow dry my hair. Day trip planned to the zoo and new beach? Wait your husband needs to help your Uncle with plumbing issue for couple of hours before you go. So sorry you didn't make it to beach but it means a lot that you helped us with the faucet...(I think that this price we "pay" for staying at their home). I was so PISSED OFF! No one realizes how much I needed a break a rest from my every day life. But I didn't speak up. A part of me feels selfish for wanting alone time. They just love me and want to spend time with me and my family. It's all about me, reading your post today after I returned home was eye opening and so much like ... wow! Why do I continue to accept the crumbs of life? What don't I think that I am valuable or worthy? I just don't know. Thank you for being out here and sharing. You bring clarity and light to my inner feelings.

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  10. I keep coming back to the idea that we teach others how to treat us. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

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  11. I'm new here. Thinking I need to stop drinking. Today day 1.

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  12. Yup! I get this one, Amy. It's taken me a couple years now to understand all this. I still fall into the old ways at times. I get all people pleasing and such, but nowhere near how I used to before. Creating BOUNDARIES has been one of the toughest, yet most rewarding things I have done. Tough to say no, and try not to feel wound up about it (guilt? remorse? selfish?), but you know what? I too need to carve out space for my own thoughts and personal achievements. Sure, being of service to others (family, friends, etc) is important. But I am no good to anyone if I am chewing resentment over resentment over the fact that I am doing things because I think that is what I expect other people to expect from me! Insanity. Most normal people don't do that.

    Sigh. But man, when it hums, it hums. People start to see you differently. Sure we need to compromise at times, to capitulate at the right times, but we also need time to pick sweater lint and stare at the stars. For no other reason that it's just needed.

    Great post - love the new look here :)

    Paul

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