Yesterday was a great day, or an average day with a relatively great finish. (Aren’t average days in some ways the greatest?)
The difference was I was me all day, and relaxed and fine with it. Often I am me all day, and self-critical or anxious about it. Or not me, and then resentful for it. I tend to worry, for a big portion of the day, about what other(s) think(s) of me. I might feel some irritation from someone or judgement coming from them and I focus on that, wishing I could transform it to liking and appreciation. Yet, I am not that person I believe they wish I would become, whoever that is, or if that wishing even exists. And yet, I have a right to existence as well; exactly as I am, regardless of what that person thinks of me.
So yesterday I was basically a meme. “I did me.” Have you ever had that moment where instead of looking at self-improvement memes on Instagram, you actually ARE the meme?
I. Was. The meme.
Well, pretty zen. So what does a zen self-improvement meme look like? For me, yesterday (a day off school, since it was a long weekend here) it looked like staying un-showered in my yoga pants all day instead of “changing the world one summer dress at a time” (had tried that the day before, didn’t seem to make a difference, not in the little world of our own home, anyway); it looked like noticing my body when I passed by a mirror and thinking, what on earth have I been so harsh on myself about? I am GORGEOUS. Lol. Complete with unbrushed hair and no makeup and the yoga pants I wear as pyjamas and never change out of some days (and the softy stretchy sparkly jade-green grocery-store top that is the soul-mate of my yoga pants). Complete with non-washboard stomach. It’s a beautiful stomach. It’s a stomach that says, yes I take baseline care of myself but it’s not all I work on. It’s a bit cozy. It’s a bit soft and huggable. It’s… the stomach that I have in this moment.
It looked like sitting down with my third son and teaching him some chords on the piano. It looked like playing a few new and very easy songs from the beginner piano book on my own, after he got bored and left, and then one-handing the Heart Sutra, from start to finish, instead of trying (and failing) to do both hands together like usual. It looked like letting my husband cook rich, carb-and-calorie-laden food all day, and not feeling guilty for letting him do the cooking yet again (no one’s forcing him! I vote for raw food days lol!), nor for enjoying every delicious calorie-laden bite of every meal.
It looked like spending a lot of time hanging out on the blogosphere. Which is one of my favourite things to do, while the younger kids play video games together, which is one of their favourite things to do (normally I feel guilty for letting them have screen time. I think it’s good to feel guilty about this — but not all the time).
It meant making time to just sit in the yard and have a coffee, in a lawn chair next to my husband, with no other agenda.
It meant spending three hours helping my older son with his year-end oral presentation, last minute (without getting mad that it was last-minute!), and having so much fun doing it.
Basically everything came easily and fine. It was a combination of meeting my own needs and letting — or helping, when asked — others meet theirs.
i.e. Not Trying to Control the World.
The great finish was the genuinely fun family dinner at the end of the day. Everyone was so relaxed and happy. This very, very rarely happens. I usually blame everyone else for that, in my head, at least (refusal to keep elbows off table, chewing with mouths open, etc. etc. such a job I have, to raise kids who know how to behave at the table, I think to myself, day in, day out, hopelessly). But what if part of the problem was actually (gasp)… me?
Ok now I’m being ingenuous. Of course I know it is partly me. A big part me, actually. Which causes me to mentally beat myself up a lot. This actually makes it challenging to stay sober at times. “Well I’ve still got problems sober, so why not just get drunk? And when I was drinking at dinner I was so much more cheerful,” I’ll think. (And I’ll secretly, fearfully believe that the kids and my husband think so too.)
But I wasn’t really present, then. I thought myself hyper-present, of course, in the tipsy/drunk moment… but in fact I was in my own world. I can see this clearly time and time again whenever I’m exposed to someone drinking, now — they think they’re hyper-tuned-in, but they are anything but truly connected to their surroundings. Just as I wasn’t when I was drinking. And any gain in relaxing my stressed, over-anxious, over-responsible-feeling exterior with booze was nullified by setting a bad example for my kids — reinforcing a cultural idea that adults need alcohol, to have fun and let go. Thus: shame.
I might not be consistently fun and relaxed yet, sober; but I wasn’t consistently fun and relaxed while drinking either. And I’m still practicing a new way of being. I have to give myself time. Last night was another one of these times that showed me I can be very, very fun and relaxed, sober. Like, I’m talking wild laughter and rose-(not-rosé-)tinted glasses and lots and lots of love and genuine gratitude.
And it happened all because of “taking it easy.” And Being The Meme.
“In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy.” — AA Big Book, p. 86 (https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/alcoholics-anonymous)
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