The basement's a mess, the dishes overflow in the sink, and the toilet's broken.
BUT...your house is on fire. Soooo….what do you do first?
On any ordinary day, a broken toilet could be an all-out crisis. You wouldn't want to put off dealing with THAT for too long. The dishes? Meh. They can sit around for a few days. And the basement....well....that can always wait until next year.
But if you don't run screaming out of the house and call the fire department, none of those other little problems will be of any consequence, because your home will have smoldered into a pile of ashes.
So this is a lesson in priorities. Because right now, you're worrying about seventy-nine different things: some critical...most of minute importance. If you're anything like the majority of the procrastinating masses, you're tackling all of those tiny little problems first...and flat-out ignoring that your house is on fire!
Is it reeeeally possible to live in that much denial?
I suspect that we do it because it (seems) easier. We don't like the dishes, but we know how to do them. We can push out of mind those great big glaring problems that we're not really sure how to fix, in exchange for the tiny victory of accomplishing something menial. It deludes us into feeling "in control." Yay, we are doing the work it takes to pass for functional!
Meanwhile, all the little crackles and pops we ignored suddenly erupt into flames, and we feign ignorance.
How could this possibly have happened?!
Perhaps because we covered our eyes and ears to all of the little signs. There is a book brilliantly entitled, Your Body Is Talking, Are You Listening? The truth is, most of the time we aren't.
Our culture practically boasts that we are all overworking ourselves to exhaustion, eating ourselves sick, and drinking ourselves into oblivion. Is there anything so fundamental as our health, our bodies, the one vehicle we're given to get through life? And yet, we act like we'll be given a thousand second chances to stop treating ourselves like crap. Well, guess what. There’s no trade-in after we drive this car into the ground. We’re stuck with whatever we do to it.
I myself recently began to have the irritating suspicion that I was going to have to change my life in order to change my life. I know; how annoying.
My body had been screaming at me for - not days - but years. I knew what I needed to do. I knew what I "should" do. I even knew what I wanted to do.
But somehow, none of that was enough. I was perfectly content with my escapism. It took a major health eruption and immense pain from SI joint dysfunction and Piriformis Syndrome for me to get it. 7 years of not being able to sit, sleep, walk, or drive without my muscles and joints screaming at me.
And that is why Tony Robbins said, "Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change."
Unless, of course, you decide to, "Change before you have to." - Jack Welch
So. My advice to you?
First, stop the bleeding.
This mantra has been reverberating inside my head for the past 2 and a half years since I started writing this post. How’s that for crazy? Speaking of denial…
At first I didn’t finish it because I hadn’t figured out how to stop the bleeding myself. My “house” – in Jungian terms, my psyche - my very own body was literally on fire with screaming pain. From a shoulder injury that never healed, to a diagnosis of SIBO and Fructose Malabsorption, to nerve damage from a dental implant, a never-ending cascade of appointments and surgeries took a toll on my ability to manage anything but daily survival.
I thought I wasn’t writing because the priority was to put out the fire. If you're hemorrhaging blood, it doesn't much matter if your thighs are too big or you haven't dusted the house in 6 months.
I thought I wasn’t writing because I would do practically anything BUT face my addiction: sugar. I went to physical therapy for months, lost another chunk of weight, overhauled my entire diet from vegan to Paleo, and begrudgingly gave up my favorite FODMAP’s…but couldn’t give up my gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate. Or, as I tend to view it, the one food without which life is not worth living.
Then I didn’t finish it because, well, how hypocritical is it to throw up some post about facing all your crap when I am so clearly *not doing that.
I thought I had to:
a) figure it out,
b) fix it
c) THEN, and only then, write my success story.
If I can’t even get a tourniquet around my arm, what have I learned at all, was my logic. Then I realized how much easier it would be to write this post once I could wrap it all up in a shiny little bow like everyone else does. How much prettier everyone’s story is once the ugly part is over, and they make it through to the other side. That’s the only valid time to share your struggles, isn’t it?
This is going to sound weird, but I haven’t figured out how to fix all of my problems in the past 30 months. I don’t even know if I’ll figure it out in the next 30 years, or if any of us will. We just have to do the best we can. We hose down the house, it bursts into flames again. In the meantime, no one has shown up to do our dishes or train us for less stressful careers.
I’ve realized a couple of things recently. For one, it’s a whole lot easier to say I can’t give up sugar than to admit that I can’t deal with my feelings. It’s a whole lot easier to cram chocolate in my face than to face the fact that I may have to manage chronic pain, anxiety, and depression the rest of my life.
I used go on walks and ask myself what it was going to take to let go of the pain that I was in, my rage at people that hurt me, the suffering I had caused my family, and the shame I felt from brushing dangerously close to suicide.
I haven’t finished this post, or written much of anything really, because I don’t know what it’s going to take, or if those feelings will ever fully subside. I funneled my energy into living and giving and doing and fixing and trying to solve emotional problems by intellectualizing, avoiding, and pretending the past didn’t exist.
I think some part of me believed that having some distance from my blog would help me to separate from the despair that I’d gone through so that I could create a new life for myself. The truth is, I shut myself off from the one person I can be honest with: myself.
To not write is to not heal.
What major issue are you turning a blind eye to in your life?