I started running again a couple of weeks ago. I let go of the Shoulds and the Rules I’d constructed around my life and let myself have 20 minutes, three nights a week. Because I need exercise to feel good and I have been denying myself that because there are other, more important things to do. Because I need oxygen to feel good, but I have denied myself that, too, because there are other, more important things to do. I know I need to follow the rhythms of my body, after a day of following the rhythms (often conflicting) of two little people, to feel good, but I don’t let myself because there are things—an endless list of things—to do. I was being self destructive and eating to relax because I can eat while I do at least half of the other things I need to do.
Need. To do.
So I started running. And the first night I went, I relaxed and let go and tried to feel the night and the lights and the air and the PAIN of running after almost a year wash over me. My body has not been my own since I grew Peanut six years ago. And I took one step in getting it back.
At the midpoint of my teeny tiny run I saw a woman laughing near the window of her living room, the walls of which were decorated with exotic percussion instruments. She had her arms over her head, and she was dancing and playing some bell/drum thing. [Let’s pretend I was going so fast I couldn’t quite place the instrument; more likely I was trying to be in the moment and not stare at the neighbors.] And I thought, “That’s what I want in my life.” She looked happy. And comfortable in her body. And she was having fun with music in her home in a cozy neighborhood that I’ve loved for years.
As I ran by she saw me. And stared. Really saw me and stopped to think about it. It was probably only four seconds, but in my head it was forty. And she was thinking, according to my self-doubting Critic brain, “What is that woman doing? Is she really out running and ruining your knees on asphalt, alone, when there is life to be lived? Wow. I can’t imagine.” In my brain she is much more gentle with me than I am, because she probably should have thought “pathetic,” “delusional,” and “clearly unbalanced.”
I kept running, but seeing how this woman spent her 20 minutes this evening had me thinking about how my rejection of my rules, of my shoulds, needed to go even further. I needed to be drumming and dancing and singing. I needed to be happy. I needed to reorganize my priorities and balance my life and don only what’s most important…well, it simply wasn’t enough to work all day, without a break, then run and then write or edit and then clean and then prepare and then start all over again. It was just not enough. I am not Enough. And she’s the one who told me that with her look.
[jump forward one week]
Today after school Peanut and Butter and I went to a playground with two other families. We liked each other, we wanted to see if our kids could be friends, and we wanted some adult company while our kids burned through their after-school energy. So we talked as I chased Butterbean through a creek and across rocks and up hills and after dogs. And when I mentioned where we lived, one of the other moms told me where she lived. I told her that her house was on my new running route.
She looked at me and said, “I knew that was you I saw running. I was in my living room acting like an idiot and I recognized you.”
And there it was. She stared because she knew me. And from that recognition I read judgement and pity and superiority. I told her I thought she was looking because I was pathetic. And now that she knew I had seen her, she quickly tried to couch her reckless abandon as silliness and lunacy when all I had seen was joy and humanity.
The rules and the shoulds and the inferiority and the judgement are there, waiting to sabotage. Waiting to say it’s not enough, whatever it is.
Maybe, every once in a while, we can remember whose rules they are. Because if we’re not Enough we can change, and when we are Enough, we need to see it.
Maybe we could see into our own living spaces with the eyes of a gentle, tired, flawed human and see who we really are.
I’m pretty sure it’s Enough.
(This post is being simulcast over at Dump Your Frump, where they believe whatever you do is more than enough.)
So. Did you dance?
@cuteellaisbold [smile] I’ve brought a lot more music and dancing into the hours the boys are awake. But I have not spent the afterhours me time on dancing, no. I am just not evolved enough yet. ;-) How about you? What’s your self-feeding awesome sauce?
@Casey Thanks. One of mine, too, though I unfortunately like the sarcastic transcriptions of Peanut’s antics more. Honesty about self is a bit too raw and makes me itchy.
@MomalomJen You’re gonna love the novel if you like this writing.
@subWOW I hope she becomes a friend, too. There are three, actually, that hold promise. I made a dozen good friends at the preschool, whom I hope last as we age away from each other. Several from a yahoo meetup group of attachment parenting types, too. Shocking, actually, how easily I’ve made friends since I’ve moved home and am happier and more grounded. Oh…look there. Secret of life or some such. ;-)
@unicorn That means a lot from you, of keeper of glitter and careful guardian of chee.
@DumpYourFrump That reader who needed the post was why I wrote it. I’m honestly not comfortable posting my soul-searching moments, but it seemed to necessary for a lot of us. I hear you on the exercise. Not sure how to make it important enough. It seems selfish to take the time, but finding the time means cramming it into the spaces without children, of which there are few, and in which I’m freaking exhausted. I know I need it, though, as I pack on the pounds of emotion around my hips. Good luck. Those pushups do count. And add up.
Favorite… post… yet…
I agree with Casey. Love this post. The writing. The reality. Everything.
I immediately thought: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She sounds awesome. Keeping my fingers crossed for you. It’s rare IMO once we leave school to meet someone who will eventually become a friend… I am so happy you met someone!
You are more than enough. You are brimming with enough.
You’re amazing. Doncha forget it lady.
I wish I could get off my ass and run. I do. I can’t even do that much. Sometimes I do push ups against the lip of the counter. So they’re not even real push ups. But you know for now that’s enough. I’ll get there. To the dancing. Or the real running. Or the writing of my novel. I will. Thank you thank you thank you for letting us post this on dumpyourfrump. Someone left a post over there about how it came at the perfect time, after she’d gone swimming and felt sorta ugly and uncool. She needed the you are enough reminder. So thank you.
isn’t it a wonderful feeling that no matter how low, lonely, or pathetic we may feel at times, we can always turn to our blogs and pour our hearts out?! and low and behold when we do, SOMEBODY happens upon it and pours their heart out expressing gratitude for you bearing your soul so that they can then be inspired to do the same?! this alone is the reason why you are more than enough.
@Donna Welcome! It’s true, isn’t it: you can’t exactly gather all your friends and acquaintances in a room and tell them you’ve had this emotional breakthrough and then line them up to hear their responses, then have them all tell you about their emotional state. But blogs allow exactly that. I started blogging to see if I was, in fact, insane. And I found that it doesn’t matter, because there are at least a dozen people similarly insane and willing to talk about it.
love this! thanks for continuing to grace my computer with your presence…
@Steph Glad you like it. Hope it gets you to dance more. ;-)
you are brilliant and so very enough. just think, if we model knowing we are enough and being gentle to ourselves our kids can hopefully grow up and spend their free time in peaceful harmony instead of beating themselves up for not being good enough. it’s a revolution, i’m in.
Being flawed helps us see the beauty of others, and occasionally, we get a glimpse of ourselves. In those moments of breakthrough, we see the potential that being kinder to ourselves brings.
Hope these new friendships are all you hope for and deserve…
You’ve put into words, beautiful words, what I’ve been struggling with this summer. I’ve been told (by doctors, my therapist) that I need to put myself first. That my health is more important than all the shoulds and rules. And like you, when I’m making my yoga a priority (feeling guilty that I’m not (insert anything that involves my family or friends) or taking an extra lap with the dog around the block: I’m conjuring up judgements/criticisms that probably don’t exist.
I more than like this post. But you don’t have a button for LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!
@Tara Wouldn’t that be grand? A generation who believe they’re good enough, they’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like them. ;-)
@Maria Aren’t you sweet. Thank you.
@Jane Ah, dear Jane. If anyone should be living a life free of self criticism it’s our dear Jane! Go do some yoga, dear Jane! You deserve it! (Notice I tagged the post yoga because I’m pretty sure I should be doing more yoga and that maybe, somehow, a yoga attitude about accepting where my body is each day would count as doing yoga.)
@Dump Your Frump why is the link to your site not working? Damn it. I’m going to fix it, but I coded a link. I know I did because I love my little code stuff .
Your post reminded me – “How to Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice”, which I aspire to (we all need lofty goals :)) says we all need to hear our inner compassionate parent. The one that gives us a hug, a pat on the back, encouraging words.