Sunday, February 2, 2014

Breaking old habits is hard

It’s quiet this morning and I have time to write a blog so I feel like I should do something creative. It’s only Sunday, but this has been a very long weekend already.

I’m not going to write about what all has happened these past few weeks. It’s too exhausting to even think about it at this point. But it’s nothing new…same song different day.

And I’m tired of that song.

While the song is the same—someone continues to disrupt my family—the way I listen to the tune has changed quite a bit.

I’ve been looking back at old journals and thinking back to how I used to handle my personal life, and I’ve discovered an unsettling habit I picked up along the way.  

Somehow I’ve always managed to keep my personal life from invading and ruining my professional life—I successfully finished a demanding grad program with high scores, made a living as a freelance writer who never missed a deadline and now I have my current job and so far I’ve managed to keep the personal stuff personal and not let it run over to missed deadlines or missed days.

I had to learn to compartmentalize things a long time ago. There was a time for crying and there was a time to put on a happy face and be happy mommy and make everyone think we were a happy little family. It was scary to me how good I got at that.

I still do it today. I get hit with a bomb late at night or early in the morning, and I still manage to stroll into work on time every day, handle my work with a smile and walk out without having the meltdown I want to have—you know, the kind of meltdown where you yell at someone who is an idiot and can’t follow simple instructions.

Sometimes I worry that compartmentalizing my private life to keep it from affecting my professional life will somehow shut down my ability to have normal reactions to things that are really sad.

And it makes it even harder that I work in a newsroom where we are constantly flooded with bad news and I find myself slowly growing accustomed to shutting down that part of me that is supposed to be sad.

This weekend, I allowed myself to have that full-blown meltdown where I cry and scream and allow myself to get really angry at people. And it felt really good to get that off my chest. If felt really good to be honest and say exactly how I feel.

I’m so worried about everyone’s feelings all the time that I forget about my own. I forget that sometimes I need to make things easier for myself—not just protect those around me from seeing me very angry or really sad.

I’ve also learned that the person who used to have the most effect on me, doesn’t have that affect any more.
They say the opposite of love or hate is indifference—I believe I have finally reached that point.

Indifference feels really nice. It’s nice to go toe-to-toe with someone who used to wind me up and now not feel anything except pity for that person. But even that pity doesn’t make me feel sorry for that person—just pity that he is his own worst enemy and always will be.

So what does all this mean? It means I realized that it’s time to start de-compartmentalizing my life and trying to figure out how all this fits together so I can’t stop keeping everyone at arm’s length all the time.

It’s sad to me to realize that I have only made a few close friends over these past several years. Sure, I have friends, but it’s not the same close relationships I used to make when I was much younger.

I can only think of about three people that I have made close friendships with over the past five years, and I really don’t see them much or talk often enough.

It’s hard for me to really trust people after what I have been through, but even more importantly, I carry such a huge burden of shame that I worry other women won’t want to be my friend if they knew what my life has been like—or who I really am.

It’s hard to undo the re-programing a bad ex-husband can do to you—always trying to change me and always pointing out my mistakes to show how people won’t like me if they knew I drank wine, watched rated-R movies or any of the other “non-Baptist” things I did.

It seems funny to think I haven’t shook that off yet, but that kind of programming can go deeper than you think and I realize I still haven’t fully shook it off.

So, I guess for me, 2014 will be that year where I reach really deep into my soul and find a way to be okay with myself—okay enough to stop keeping everyone at arm’s length. Okay enough to really believe that there isn’t anything wrong with me. Okay enough to be who I really am and not worry about what others think of me.

As easy as it sounds when I tell my children to just be themselves and not worry about what others think, we all know that is one of the hardest things to do—even as a grown adult.

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