First, can I just say? I have referenced the TV special “Free to be You and Me” several times recently and in more than a couple of instances, the person with whom I was speaking had no idea what I was talking about. Seriously? William Wants a Doll? The Baby Skit? Michael Jackson? Anyone? I can’t tell you how old that makes me feel. For my own vanity…if any of you actually remember this show…can you please tell me so in the comments section so I can be assured that an AARP membership is not in my immediate future??? Jesus.
Earlier this year, as I was adjusting to having made a big job change, my husband and I were faced with some pretty big life decisions. We had just started really enjoying each other’s company again, things were feeling so breezy and stress free, and we made a conscious decision that we needed time to just be. No crazy big decisions, no over analyzing, no over talking…just being.
I don’t know about you, but if I think back over the past 20 years, I really can’t identify many times in my life in which I allowed myself to just be. Whether I was trying to lose weight, or trying to change jobs, or trying to buy a house, or trying to finish school, or trying to find a masters program, or trying to save my marriage…there has always been something that requires energy and focus and all sorts of internal work. We women don’t often give ourselves much of a break. Most of the time it’s GO GO GO from one thing to the next. From one goal to the next. From one struggle to the next. I’ve moved from one thing to the next for what seems like forever.
We so enjoyed the first couple of months. There was no pressure. No pressure to be better or different than what we already are as a couple. And it was fabulous. Like…remarkably fabulous. I started assessing other parts of my life that were making me crazy. The need to be a certain number on a scale, the need to make it to yoga this many times per week, to run that many times per week, to check 57 things off a list every week, and I recognized the fact that I have been telling myself I need to do something to change myself for as long as I can remember. I’m not saying I’d been looking in the mirror and thinking I didn’t like myself. Not at all. But I did look in the mirror and think I could do better. At something.
Once I recognized that, I started thinking about what I’ve actually been saying to myself…’umm…yeah…so you’re not really good enough the way you are.’ As someone who has always prided herself on having a healthy and sometimes overly healthy self esteem? This revelation was startling. And I decided at that moment that this whole “giving myself time to be” thing? It needed to involve much more than just my marriage. It needed to cover everything.
So I stopped dieting. For maybe the first time in ten years. I stopped worrying about what I wrote here…even though I wasn’t happy with the quality of writing I was putting out there. I stopped thinking about being the best yoga student, or the most consistent runner, or even making it to my gym the obligatory 12 times per month (as mandated by insurance). I allowed myself to run in, scan my membership card, grab a smoothy and then walk right out. Guilt free. I allowed myself to stay home if my husband was doing something in which I wasn’t particularly interested. I stopped being so attached to a “plan” and allowed myself to do whatever I damn well pleased regardless of what my calendar said. I stopped worrying about things that others thought I should be thinking about and decided that whatever happens happens and it’s going to be perfect any way it ends up.
I stopped the madness.
Last year at this time, I was leaving for an annual trip I take with a couple girlfriends. I didn’t want to go, I was stressed, didn’t feel like leaving home/my husband/my Sully (the little girls were not with us that weekend), and I was not particularly happy. I had started my weight loss adventure and was doing great but I was overly anxious about what I’d do while out of town. I hated my job. I was uptight (shocker). And, surprise surprise, while I ended up having fun I was much more reserved than normal and didn’t feel great.
I leave tomorrow for that same trip and I feel more like myself than I have in years. YEARS. I’m so much happier and more confident. I’m more completely confident and happy in my marriage than I’ve ever been. Sure…the new swimsuit I bought before quitting dieting is going to be a teensy bit snug…but I am not obsessing about it. I haven’t seen my yoga matt in a couple of months…so be it. I feel funnier, happier, more “game,” and far more equipped to actually enjoy this life I’m so lucky to have and I’m happy to simply be me. As I am right this second. I mean…it’s f-cking fantastic.
This doesn’t mean lists and goals won’t come back into my picture. In fact, this “time off” has actually clarified some things for me. It’s like the usual things that are swirling in my head have cleared out and I’m suddenly more in-tune with my gut instinct, it’s easier to remember the things I love doing, and I feel like the real me. Who, by the way, I’ve always been a pretty big fan of (I said overly healthy self esteem did I not?). There may be some self-induced challenges coming up but I feel so much more able to actually take them on and make them work. But I also know that if they don’t work out? It’s just fine.
I hope I never, ever, allow my mind to get so crowded with my own bullsh-t that I can’t be myself again. And I wish this for everyone…give yourself a break and allow yourself to just be for awhile.
TODAY: What if allowing myself to just “be,” letting go of all the stuff I’ve been trying to change for so long, actually brings out the real me?