For eight months, I’ve been co-authoring a new book with a veteran of the Vietnam War. The work has been emotionally challenging for both of us. On one particular evening, my co-author shared that, for most of his life, he ran from his past trauma until it finally caught up with him and demanded his attention.
Something similar happened to me last Monday. All of my running around, rushing from event to event, all of my personal and professional work came to a screeching halt when I contracted three separate illnesses. From heat exhaustion on Sunday to stomach bug on Monday to head cold on Wednesday through today, my body is telling me loudly and clearly: YOU MUST SLOW DOWN!
Message received! When I had no energy to do anything except sleep, watch TV, and read, I realized that I’ve been ignoring my body’s needs. My emotional exhaustion should have been a clue that my physical body might soon follow suit. But, it’s a trap I fall into easily; it’s my internal computer’s “default setting”. Even the words with which I use to describe my life experiences (“struggle”, “wrestle”, “work through”) suggest that I don’t find it easy to simply “be”, “relax”, or “let go”. It also implies that I don’t think I am enough. Indeed, my counseling work this summer has revealed an underlying belief that “I am not enough”.
Having less energy and being sick has been a blessing. It has forced me to re-prioritize, putting REAL self-care first again. Sure, I’ve been taking care of my needs in a cursory way, but often just to check them off some imaginary to do list: Exercising? Check. Eating well? Check. Journaling? Check. Still accomplishing a million other little things to prove my worth to others? Check, check, check, check…!!!
In the spirit of self-compassion, I’m telling myself the following:
You’ve worked hard to prove your worth to others.
Those who matter already know you and respect you.
Maybe it’s no longer necessary to work so hard.
Maybe it’s okay to just do what needs to be done without always giving it 110%.
Maybe what needs to be done and what you want to get done are two different things.
Maybe YOU ARE ENOUGH, EXACTLY AS YOU ARE.
Peace, joy, and recognition that YOU ARE ENOUGH,