Last week, I had the realization that I’d been feeling depressed for a couple of weeks, not just the couple of days I could name it. I wouldn’t say a switch went off and I woke up one morning in a different place, but I am feeling less enshrouded in a cloud of apathy and “meh.”
Yesterday, I had the realization that I’ve been carrying around something since a very young age, and I’m only now feeling the true weight of it, and how much it slows me down.
On a run last week, I approached a man and woman on the path giving their kids piggy-back rides. The woman quickened into a trot—I wasn’t yet close enough to hear but I’m guessing her little girl said “giddy-up” and “faster, Mommy!” As I ran past them, I could hear the little girl say, “You’re not running fast like her!” And the mom said, “Because I’m carrying you!”
It’s easy (well, it’s certainly easy for me) to watch people in totally different phases or circumstances or life seem to rush by me. Sometimes, it seems they have rockets in their shoes, they’re so far ahead.
But what if it’s not about what they do have, but about what is burdening me?
And not to make it seem trivial, but if there is something burdening me, I actually have the chance to do something about it, rather than just be jealous that someone else has something that I don’t have.
I’ll pause here for a second and mention, that this have/have not discussion will remain in the mental/spiritual realm. If this were about any other sort of disparity based on race, gender, socio-economic status, etc., my thesis would basically be the opposite.
The exact details of my little epiphany yesterday aren’t super important, but I’ll share in case it’s helpful to anyone. Each Monday morning, I spend some time with Jen Louden’s Oasis group, the foundation of which is an audio recording full of meditations, prompts, and reflections. Yesterday, she asked us to think about when in our lives we were told it wasn’t okay to shine (shine meaning being our authentic, true selves unafraid of putting ourselves into the world).
I tried to think back to a specific moment, and I couldn’t really come up with anything. What I did feel, was that starting from a very young age, that I had been handed a bunch of very heavy rocks, each with an expectation on them. That I will do well in school, that I’m smart, that I’m “good”, that I’m good.
Oh, that “be good” rock is especially heavy.
My interpretation of shining somehow—again I don’t think because of one specific instance—got tied to being successful. Being praised. Not disappointing.
I know about myself, even now, how much of my anxiety can be traced to this.
But this visualization was the first time I realized just how young I was and just how heavy the burden is and just how long I’ve been carrying around those rocks thinking I was responsible for them.
Now, I’d like to tell you that I could immediately throw those rocks down, straighten up to my full height, and say, “No more!” in triumph.
But when you’ve been carrying something for so long, it feels a part of you. In fact, I think some of these rocks have embedded into my skin, so it will take some careful surgery to remove them.
And then, the deeper question—what would I do, who would I be, if not the person who carries around these rocks?
Even writing this I get a bit of a shiver of fear, guilt, shame—deep emotions that connect to that little girl inside of me who thinks she has to accept these rocks.
Because some of these rocks have led to success. Accomplishing goals.
But am I giving the rocks too much credit? If my values are such that I will set myself up for success and be goal-oriented, then perhaps I don’t need that rock to tell me to. Perhaps then I can go about my life in a way that is more full of ease and freedom.
Not easy. Not without struggle and hardship and weight.
But at least without adding anything extra to the fact that life is hard enough, already.
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