I will own that it is easier to be happy when I have one modicum of energy. Which I didn’t have a few days ago. But let me tell you how I triumphed that day. I was kind to myself.
For the last many years of weariness, when what my body really needed was rest, I pushed harder. I pushed to my limit. Beyond my limit. And when I would finally collapse from bone-breaking exhaustion, I reprimanded myself.
“You suck,” I chastised.
“I know,” I replied.
As my deep fatigue morphed into debilitation, the voice in my head became crueler, more insistent.
“Look at you just lying there. There is too much to be done to lie in bed. Your worth is solely based on what you do, and what everyone thinks of what you do, and you are doing nothing, so you are clearly worthless. What if people knew? Hide.”
So I hid. What if people knew? Knew that I wasn’t doing?
Writing this down right now with the intent to share it, unmasking the times that I need to rest, is giving me the feeling of the beginning of a panic attack. But I will breathe deeply and press forward because it is important that I don’t hide anymore, and it is important that you know the end of the story….how I was kind to myself.
So let’s skip to the end.
A few days ago, after several nights of very poor sleep, I came home from dropping off my child at school, and… rested. I got super zen and said this to myself:
“Hey sweetheart, I see that you are really tired. Good job taking care of yourself.”
“Hey honey, I’m so proud of you for honoring your body by resting.”
“Sweetie, your body is going to heal because you are doing this important and worthwhile thing for yourself. Great job.”
The other loud, bossy voice, bold from long habit, tried to butt in. But I cut it off. Over and over I said these kind things to myself. Out loud. No matter how many times the voice interrupted, I returned to my kind words, like a mantra in a meditation. I said them during all the times I needed to rest, or take a break, or take a step back. I did what I could. And I didn’t do what I couldn’t do.
And instead of feeling like I was pond scum all day-- feeling worthless and like I needed to hide my miserable, glaring lack of value-- I felt tranquil. And a little bit delighted that I was so kind to myself. At peace with the idea that today this was all I could do, recognizing that tomorrow was another day, and believing that perhaps that day I would feel a little better.
Can you feel the difference in those words? Worthless, miserable, ‘you suck’’ vs. honoring, kind, important, worthwhile, sweetie. Enormous difference. A rock-your-world difference when you’re saying them to yourself.
I allowed myself to rest. To reset. I honored my body. Without feeling guilty. Without feeling like a piece of trash. I just said, you will feel better later. And you will be able to do more. Right now, you need to rest. You’re okay. And it’s okay.
And it was.