Show Up For Yourself, Please
"a soft woman is simply a wolf caught in meditation" - pavana
They say that the greatest distance we’ll ever travel are the 18 inches between our mind and our heart. On any given Sunday, I’m about 900 inches in and thousands of thoughts deep on that particular highway.
I drive through the best I can and go up and down depending on my heart’s mood and inclination. There are moments though when we’re stuck in traffic smack dab in the middle of those 18 inches, somewhere right next to the lump in our throat and so many inches away from any kind of positive butterfly in our stomach.
Loving isn’t easy, living a full life that does justice to your wants and needs is even harder. The more life you live the more you realize that those 18 inches are riddled with “what is actually good for me?” questions and “am I doing this right?” doubts and "crap, this is magic" feelings. More often than not the questions are spoken into the quiet of rooms, of bathrooms, of airplane cabins. The quiet doesn’t tend to answer back often, so on we go — up and down those 18 inches. We navigate our way to our mind, which speaks to just rational thought, back down to our heart that panders to all the feelings, and we try to marry both. We try to cater to what our mind tells us is good for us, to what our heart knows we want, and to the wishful thinking that has us praying that our eyes have seen, or our nose has whiffed, an answer to all our other questions.
The gasoline that powers those 18 inches traveled, back and forth, tends to be pain. More often than not we’re at war between familiar, certain pain and unknown, potential pain. We ask ourselves if it will hurt more to stay exactly where we are or if the momentary jump and stomach in your throat feeling is worth it because what’s on the other side of it could be all we’ve ever wanted.
I’ve jumped away from familiar hurt because there come points of no return when you open your eyes to how life doesn’t have to be one unstable relationship after another. It doesn’t have to be relationships with egg shells and egos stacked up so high that you can no longer even breathe, let alone see the other person. Breaking any cycle hurts though and anyone who tells you it’s easy is most definitely lying.
You jones for more like an addict. You want more than you need. You bury yourself in noise so that the silence won’t take you back. You keep on putting one foot in front of the other because while the present version of you may want to throw up, the future version of you is thanking you incessantly for never giving up on yourself and for leading yourself to all that feels right. For choosing emotional stability over a rollercoaster that isn’t even propelled by your own mental health issues. For choosing to sleep on the comfy bed even when the floor still calls your name because just because you know how to rework your body to fit the floor, why not just sprawl across a space that lets you?
You navigate through the middle space because you like the taste of bravery and how it’s the perfect lived response to all the judgmental looks cast your way from people who don’t understand you showing up for yourself.
You have no regrets, just a lot of love for yourself and for the relationships you're pouring into in healthy ways, now that you're committed to your own becoming.
You just keep showing up, because it’s you in that tunnel and the tunnel is Empowerment Road. Maybe God’s there with you if you believe in Him, or the universe. Whoever, whatever, is cheering you on, is sending snaps for every extra step forward or still.
You know you’ve walked too many steps to turn around and while you still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, you know it’s there. More than that, you know you’re worth a light at the end of the tunnel so you keep showing up for yourself.
You put on the makeup that you’d stopped wearing.
You start making the smoothies that had vanished when the stress overwhelmed.
You dust off the outfits that made you feel sexy and leave your leggings for days of intentional comfiness only.
You come back to yourself because, Lord, why did you ever forget you were worth the daily fight of grounding yourself?
Why did you forget that you can support others in their road to saving themselves but you can't be a martyr for someone else's cross?
Most of my scars don’t come from romantic relationships, but instead from familial relationships and the ways they tried. That they tried always gave me a ruler to measure other relationships against. That they fell short at times also gave me a ruler to measure other relationships against. In therapy we call this good information, any information that helps direct where you go next is good information.
Because here’s the blunt truth — yes, our families probably screwed us all up more than we even realized, but when you grow up you get to make and choose your own family. You get to still play for keeps with your blood relatives, but you also become old enough to set boundaries that make sense for you and for the future you are trying to build. Because you realize everyone is human and just trying their best. Your best includes boundaries that make you feel safe and support your worthiness.
The silence told me stories of how badly I need to be able to show up whole in any relationship — romantic or friendship — that I belong to. I need to be able to be and stay angry when I’m wronged without fearing emotional abandonment. I need to be able to bring up hurt without being gaslighted. Because someone being uncomfortable with admitting wrongdoing doesn’t change the reality that they fucked up. I need to be able to show up at my funniest especially when life is hard.
Every day since I chose to break cycles years ago I have poured into a future where I will hopefully never have to utter, “Daddy loves you. Just remember that.” while looking into the teary eyes of a little girl who resembles me in ways I simply do not want her to.
For every day that I’m in my own tunnel, I’m choosing a future that will give me room to exist and space to breathe. I own my space, even in that tunnel. I won't negotiate it once I'm out of it.
Those 18 inches between my heart and my mind, they’re feeling like an open road lately, instead of the 405 at 5pm. I owe that topping 90mph breeze to no one but myself.
What a fucking treat.