For some time now, I have been working to undo some of my worst traits, at the very least, be more aware of them and the damage they do and maybe even try to avoid giving into them. I realize that I make assumptions, sometimes based on nothing but the negative voices in my head, I take things personally (and the most ridiculous things too), which then feeds into my urge to make everything about me, I tend to react immediately to something, generally based on my assumptions, and then there is my need to be right and have the last word. Fun stuff, yes? Especially when you combine them all together and throw in my quick temper. They all seem to be hard wired into me, many of them are the results of my family dynamic that I have been trying to shed most of my adult life, but even more so the last two years. I’m tired of these things interfering in my relationships. Most of all, I want my child to be more in control of her emotional well being. Just because I wasn’t raised with the tools for this doesn’t mean she has to be. And if I expect her to be able to do this, I need to set the example. I need to know the tools to teach her, yes? So I’ve spent a good bit of time in therapy, I’ve read a good bit about the lasting effects of my parents behaviors and issues, and I’ve realized quite a bit about myself. Over time, I’ve found myself making progress here and there, but I’ve also found myself slipping. I’ve learned to take it easy on myself when I slip, while I am always pleasantly self satisfied when I discover myself making progress.
Last week, I had evidence of that progress all over the place. There were a few things that popped up and I found myself being able to work through them in ways I had never been able to before. I was impressed with myself, and felt like I had made real progress. One day in particular seemed to be one reward after another for learning to stop, wait for more information before responding and not making it all about me. When I went to bed that night, I felt like I had really grown as a person, in big ways that day.
This weekend, I saw a headline Huffington Post’s food page that just grabbed my attention, “Are you preventing your own happiness?”. Why, yes, I know I do, and I am in the process of working quite hard to stop doing just that. How does that relate to food I wondered? Well, it was this article about Paula Deen, and how she had gotten her start and her philosophy on life, which, stunningly enough, is similar to where I find myself these days. Although quite happily married, I decided a few months ago I wanted to do something that made me happy and contributed to our family income while I was doing it. When I wrote about starting up Dinnaah, Lesa commented that Paula Deen got her start that way. I have never been a Paula Deen fan, despite our shared love of things like butter, cream, bacon and fat. I don’t even remember why I don’t like her, it had something to do with what I felt was a grave misuse of mayonnaise and grilled asparagus. I have to admit, I wasn’t entirely flattered by the comment, I think I would have liked it more if it had been someone I admire a bit more, but I did like knowing that someone wildly successful started out the same way I am attempting to do. And in reading that article on Saturday, I realized that I was having another little lesson in throwing out my assumptions. Yet another experience in growth.
A few months ago, right after I was laid off and considering starting up something on my own, Clarabelle called and wanted to offer me some unsolicited advice on the whole thing. She had just launched her own business and wanted to talk nuts and bolts about what it was going to take. Over the years, I couldn’t help but notice that when she shows up and offers advice, it’s always right on and exactly what I need. She is definitely one of the people I feel the universe has dropped into my life on purpose. While we have had our ups and downs over the years, she still pops up in my life in very good, unexpected ways. That chat that day was epically wonderful for me and our friendship. For the first time probably ever, I really opened up to her, on a number of topics, and I felt we had reached a new level in our friendship. I was touched, and still am, that she reached out the way she did. When she called Saturday morning, I had been sitting there thinking about her when the phone rang and before I even looked at the caller ID, I knew it was her. For how better to cap a week of growth than a good chat with her? Not that I mentioned any of this- most of the situations I found myself in this week where I noticed the growth aren’t really worth recounting here. But, I felt I had made serious progress on myself and I was proud. And she was calling to tell me she was proud of me for just jumping in, for she knew I had to get over myself too.
The universe moves in mysterious ways. Sometimes I think it bonks me over the head to get it’s point across, even when I feel I’m listening. I’ve come a long way. In forcing myself out of old, destructive habits, I find myself doing things that are good for myself – like exercising more, eating better, drinking less, rather than sitting and stewing. This growth thing is good for me on so many levels. After going so long feeling like I couldn’t shake some of these traits, it was fantastic to discover I could indeed shake them. The best part of all may have been that I started the week off with this overwhelming feeling of anxiety that really tried it’s best to throw me. In the past, I might have given in. Instead, I recognized it for what it was, and worked to not let it get the best of me. I don’t know that I fully succeeded, but in looking back over the last week and seeing where I started and where I ended, there was a marked difference. It was growth.