What Holds You Back?

CLF - Olmstead Parks

Have you ever stopped to contemplate that the thing which holds you back most in this world is you?

Certainly this is my truth. Funny how I have such a hard time admitting it, however, when things do not seem to, ‘go my way’. Simple daily atrocities frequent my reality and cause feelings of dissatisfaction, irritation, and even fear – and I blame the outside world for my subsequent reactions. Someone else dirtied these dishes but now I have to clean them up – again. She woke me up several times throughout the night, so I am tired because she did not let me sleep. He forgot to get my favorite snack at the grocery store, so now I have to go out and get it myself. A million variables exist on any one day, yet they all serve to assume responsibility for my bad attitude.

The interesting truth is that it does not matter, to a heart that finds contentment in the small things, what circumstances arise. If one chooses happiness, tranquility, balance – should one not find it even in the midst of these trivial things? What about, then, when life warrants your reactions – truly? During times of financial hardship, for example, or when faced with the unexpected loss of a loved one – are we allowed to then blame the world for how we feel about it? Can we use that excuse if it means we are less-than pleasant to the ones we love?

Right now, life is amazingly stable. Few times in my life have I felt this true enough to confess, fewer still have I trusted its persistence to remain stable. I exist, then, in this strange inner limbo wherein I really have nothing to criticize – nothing to complain about – but yet I still feel quite uneasy, as if I am constantly awaiting the thud of the other shoe.

It is not difficult, in my case, to trace the path of this unrest. History dictates that my heart has known trials – some of which have since taken years to understand or even cope with – and once these are understood, it may be easy to see why I become quite cynical even when no darkness lingers here now. Furthermore, if witnessing the spiral from temporary contentment to subsequent spiral, I have shown that I am comfortable making this transition; finding holes in the fabric is my specialty.

So, then, what can I do but exist as I am? But to accept that where I come from has, ‘made me this way’, and, because true change is difficult and long-suffering, I may as well just get used to it.

Well, see, the thing is – I don’t want to be that person anymore. I don’t want to wake up from sleep each day with a brand new list of excuses as to why I won’t be happy – whether I slept that night or not. Whether there are dishes to clean or a grocery store trip is necessary because we ran out of my favorite creamer. I don’t want to feel my husband’s arms around me and silently wonder when he will leave me (because my brain has convinced my heart that is what men do). I don’t want to pay a bill and then frantically believe that we are going to run out of money – there is NEVER enough money! I don’t want to snap at my children for not picking up their room, resenting them because now it is apparently Mom’s mess to clean… I don’t want to watch the spiral anymore – the one that knocks me off balance and sends fear deep into my untrusting heart.

My history may dictate many things, but I think it is time I appreciate it for the wonderful things it taught me – every moment from this one and all before it… I am a strong woman when it comes down to it and I am a good shoulder to cry upon. I am empathetic because I know what real pain feels like. I am compassionate because I have seen sorrow, deceit, and people I’ve loved (and myself) make mistakes that you’d think no person should make – I have been there so I can relate. There is more than this, but most of the time I just don’t allow myself to see that part.

Can a change of perspective be all that is necessary, after all? More than this, what about my habit – because isn’t that all we mean when we say, “that’s just the way I am”? I have formed a habit of self but my behaviors, thoughts, reactions, and even some of my feelings are not set in stone, and I think that is the point to growing as a person – realizing this, but furthermore doing something about it – this is what defines growth.

I like to measure growth in progression of reactions:
Did I hold my tongue when she hit her sister and instead direct them kindly, with love and    compassion that they’re just children and need to learn how to control their feelings?
Could I have just hugged my husband and told him I loved him even though he forgot the one thing I asked for – instead of silently but obviously disapprove of his mistake, making him feel dumb because I am annoyed?
… For the hard things that for so long I allowed to define “Me”…
Can I forgive my mother? Forgive my divorces? Forgive my own mistakes?

Growth. It happens when we stop making excuses for who we are, how we behave, what we think. We stop being our biggest hindrance towards personal success and start appreciating the remarkable simplicity in life – the way a child laughs and the light she gets in her eyes when she finally wrote a, “J – Jjjj” for Jemma and got all the way to 100 in her numbers because Layla finally mastered her counting. The way my husband lights up when he feels the baby kick, or the way he seems so sure when he sweetly tells me he loves me even when I am being a bitch.

It is so easy to be annoyed. The point out the holes, and to trip on them along the way. To say you’ll never change – to think you need to accept you and that there is no room for growth. Have we succumbed so much to “acceptance” that we excuse bad behaviors because that’s just, ‘where you are’? While it is good to acknowledge where we are, and find balance in that, it does not mean we have nowhere else to go from there. Trees don’t ever just stop growing because their height was, ‘good enough’. Water does not stop flowing just because it didn’t want to continue the journey to the sea. So, too, our souls yearn for growth – for peace, tranquility, and contentment. Dare I say it – Happiness! But we won’t, we can’t – unless we let go of the very thing holding us back. Ourselves.River-Winniford-flowing-i-012

Please, I welcome your thoughts, perspective, and new ideas on anything I have written here!

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