Wow.

IMG_0462I can’t seem to find that prolific title to quickly, simply and powerfully convey this very palpable feeling of overt joy I am experiencing this morning.  That title to convey either the lesson or the reason for this blog.

I guess I don’t have to try so hard… Wow says it all.

Last year I won my first ever 5k.  I’ve run them for 8 years and this was the first ever First Overall finish.  I chose the race, 20 miles out of the city, because of the cause… Crime Victim’s Rights Week.  And I won.  I asked to say something when receiving my medal because of all the factors that came together for me to win that race.  I very briefly said who I was, what happened to me and what I’ve learned.

A year later, I was asked to share my story at a luncheon for this year’s Crime Victim’s Rights Week.

That was yesterday.

And it was absolutely incredible.

Never in a million years did I think I would have the opportunity to combine my love of public speaking with what I have found in this last year is my passion for making the world a safe place.  And when I was able to combine what I’ve learned through speech therapy (for stuttering in 6th grade), speech class in high school, speech and debate club in high school, improv training in Chicago, communications class in grad school along with the pyschoeducation from my own personal story and the class at The Meadows… Fireworks.

The result were beautiful, inspirational, touching and healing fireworks.  Both for me in my recovery and for the audience in theirs.

I’ve been asked to do more.  If this was the first step, I am excited to even think about what this journey of sharing and healing through sharing looks like.

I always dreamed of being on a platform speaking to a group of people, teaching or sharing something with them.  I always knew I would be good at it.  I didn’t know what the topic was but standing behind a podium with every eye trained on me… that was very vivid in my dreams, my imagination.  I did it not for my own glory but to help others.

Yesterday that dream manifested itself in a way I never thought possible.  I got a taste of what it’s like to have my dreams come true.

And I want more.

For me.

For others.

So that future victims won’t be victims at all.

It’s Just not Natural

no-easy-buttonI was having a conversation with my colleague yesterday.  I had told him I was “catching up on emails.”  Which was true but also a conversational tool I can use quickly when asked what I’m doing.  He scoffed “you’re always checking emails.  How long does it take you?  It takes me maybe twenty minutes at the end of the day.”

It takes me 20 minutes an email.

We got into a brief but deep conversation about what I’m doing to continue to recover.  Perfectionism shows up for me in every facet of my life.  I shared that with him.  Reflecting, I maybe shared too much with him.  That’s okay, but I took down my internal boundary to make myself vulnerable with him about something that bothers me at work.

When I told him all that, he simply said, “just don’t do that.”

Really?  It’s just that simple?  Just… don’t… do… that?

Hallelujah!  We found the answer!

Now, back to earth…

In reality, I’m having to deliberately relearn some of the skills I should have picked up on as a child.  The complicated, complex, confusing part of it is I can, now, readily identify and talk about areas I want to improve… emails for example, but the unresolved emotion that flows through me like a current continues to want to direct my actions and reactions which look frighteningly familiar to my life as a victim.  5 or 50, you wouldn’t know it because my feelings are still locked up inside me, influencing my behaviors.

This is hard work.  The challenge isn’t necessarily identifying or even changing the behavior.  It’s what attempting to change the behavior stirs up… the sludge of pain, anger, emptiness that naturally comes with having been abused the way I was as a child.

What does a kid do?  If you were raped, sodomized, ostracized, criticized by your father, your dad, your hero, your protector and never allowed to talk about it?  What would you do?

When I identify issues like my work email issue and address it, attempt to change it, it only dredges up the painful emotions that made it an issue in the first place.

It just doesn’t come natural.

But like the Genie in the classic film Aladdin says… “It can be done.”

Of that I am firmly convinced.  My resolve to reclaim my life is stronger than ever.  I believe I have a right to feel and I believe I have the strength to deal.

The Going Got Good…

obstaclesSaturday morning I woke up and I got going.  I got going early, 645 am!  I had wanted to get back to doing that as I had done at periods throughout my recovery.  I like waking up early and getting going.  I feel refreshed and free when I wake up early and get started.  It may have something to do with it taking me a bit to get going so I feel I have more of the day when I’m set by 8 instead of by 10, but that doesn’t really matter too much.  What matters is I woke up, got going and felt alive.

As I continue to rebound from the last 7 days, I saw that Facebook post in which I commented “I love being alive!”  And it struck me, again.

Last week was a good week.  A challenging week and I felt up for the challenge even with the compounding layers of stuff to deal with.  Allergies, my marriage, significant change at work, and recovery.  I felt up to the challenge at all layers.  I could even feel myself continuing to push when that part of me that needed to rest was doing his best to trust the part of me that kept going.  I wanted to keep that going into and through the weekend.  I wanted to be active and go!  I wanted to take pictures, knock out some of my to do list, all that stuff!  And I did.

And then Saturday’s surprise.

I just wasn’t in a place to deal with my sister’s phone call in which my abuser came back from the “dead.”  And that’s my recovery lesson for this morning.

Life is going to throw unexpected challenges my way.  It’s not that I want to be at “the ready” 24 hours a day, but I do want to listen to my body better.  Thursday afternoon, after that trying day, really 3 days, I could have simply rested.  Put everything down and let my body recover.

I am not going to handle every challenge well or overcome every obstacle or even be 100% ready to face them as they come.  But I can listen to my body better.  I tried to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of that functional, productive place I was in last week when in reality, I needed to stop and reflect.  It’s easy to do that for myself when I’m in a “bad” place.  It’ll be a challenge to recognize those times when I’m in a “good” place.  Emotions, bad or good, have the ability to affect my thought processes, decisions and actions.  And as I take accountability for the pain, anger, shame I will also take accountability for the happiness, joy and optimism.

This is my truth and my reality.  I am recovering from CSA and depression.  At any moment, I can be triggered into that catastrophic, debilitating place.  I am frustrated that Saturday’s surprise affected me the way it did, but it did.  That doesn’t mean I can’t continue on the recovery path.  I absolutely can and will.

After all, I’m committed to reclaiming the life I should have had and want now.  One obstacle at a time.

Life

out of the blueI had reached the end of a challenging and good week.  My body was fighting allergies, I was dealing with the stress of being around colleagues and a new manager, and I was accepting truth at home and where I actually fit into my marriage.

Being self-aware, for someone who hasn’t been before, is tough.  It involves, at times, shattering my belief systems that I unconsciously built on rocky ground.  There was no reason to change them, until now.  And every day I challenge myself, I’m putting my belief systems, some of which I know are faulty and some of which I suspect are… to the test.

I was all prepared to blog on “reality” as it relates to me, both as a victim and survivor.  I’ve got one foot in both worlds.  I know that I can proceed at my own pace into the survivor world, and I am.  One hair, one breath, one step at a time.

And then out of the blue, I learn that my abuser knows something about my personal life.

BAM!

Victim world persona, thought processes, reality all began to take hold again.  DAMNIT!  I had worked so hard to tear this world down.  It worked for me then and it’s not working now!  Damn!

Ruminating thoughts, feeling scared, angry, concerned.

What does he know?  How did he find out?  What’s he going to do with that information?  Can I trust anyone around me?  Am I making this up?  Does no one believe me?  Why would they continue to talk to him after knowing what he’s done?  What he’s capable of?  Is everyone sharing my thoughts with him?  Why the hell can’t this monster just disappear?!  Can I trust ANYONE!?!?

And then I went through the process.  What am I feeling?  Why?  How can I address that feeling?  What can I do about it?

In a millisecond, my world shattered, regressed back to a  world I thought I was systematically destroying.  And it was frustrating, angering, and frightening.

I do NOT want to be scared anymore!

And as the dust settles from this unexpected life event, it became clear that I am still progressing.  Sitting here, typing this blog, I have my Eight Basic Emotions card from the Meadows.  I identified the two feelings I had and I’ve begun to deconstruct why I feel that way and what I can do about it.

I feel frustrated.  Frustrated because as I continue to make what I believe is progress, something like my sister calling out of the blue with something my dad wants to confirm about my personal life can throw me off.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  I’m grieving the loss of my idyllic father, my dad, my football tossing, baseball throwing role model.  I never had that and never will.  He violated my sacred trust and because of his actions, I work every day to build my trust in others back up.  So when I hear from my “dad” through family, I’m actually hearing about my abuser.  My dad is dead to me.  My abuser is very much alive.

This is my new world.

And that’s the other feeling…threatened.  Not so much by him as by my shaky belief that I can indeed have the life I want.  I’m not waiting for the shoe to drop anymore.  I firmly believe in my self worth and my ability to do whatever I want to get the life I want.  Moments like these may initially threaten me and shake that confidence, but not to the core.

I addressed my core… I am worthy, lovable, valuable and perfectly imperfect.  I know the truth.  I know what happened to me.  I know the pain and struggles I’ve been through to get here.  And I’m not going back.

Turns out I can have the life I want, even with a rocky beginning.  Even with my abuser still in this world, undeservingly.

And I can do whatever it takes to create a safe world for me… I blocked all ties to him (his side of the family) on Facebook.  I asked my family not to talk about me at all with him or about him with me.  I reiterated that he is no longer my “dad” but my “abuser.”

Life is going to happen.  It’s full of challenges.  That much is certain.  So the question isn’t will I experience an easy life, it’s how will I handle the challenges?

So far… I think I’m doing quite alright :)

Self-Care – Haircut

haircutToday, I went to a different barber shop to get my haircut.  I live in a big city and have been going to a hip, urban kind of place for the last two years.  My wife had yelped a good place for me to get a haircut when we first moved here and I have gone, religiously, ever since.  I have developed a good relationship with the same barber and have had the same routine for the last two years.

Recently, I noticed I wasn’t happy about my haircut and the way I looked.  I asked for something different the last two visits to the same place, but kept getting the same.  I actually felt I got better cuts from a different barber in the same place, but I couldn’t bring myself from my guy’s chair.  I also felt really bad about even considering a new barber or going to a new place.

See, when I first started going, I had overheard the same guy ask another customer if he had been to a different barber.  The customer said no.  The barber, after the customer left, said he was lying, that he could tell.  He declared, “just don’t lie to me, you know?”  Again, after the customer had left.  Several months later, I jokingly said, I hadn’t been anywhere else, I just got it cut by his partner while he was gone.  He told me it’s okay if you have a different barber, just keep coming to his place.

I felt trapped.

One of the items on the self-care sheet is appearance… “Are you happy with the way you look, haircut, etc.?”  I wasn’t.  And I knew I had to do something about it.

So I did.

I got a different kind of cut today at a different place.  I have been hearing radio ads for this place for the last couple of months and figured I’d try it out.

And I really enjoyed it.  I got a shampoo, a scalp massage and a stylish cut to go with my new confident personality.

I learned that I am responsible and accountable only for myself.  I feel bad about having to leave my guy who I’ve grown to know so well, but I won’t feel guilty about taking care of myself.  I found a place on my own and didn’t rely on my wife to recommend (tell) me where to go.  And I feel great about my new do.

See, the thing about being a survivor, having the the thought processes I do, blinded me from seeing that I had internalized what he said on my first visit and I allowed myself to believe I had to go to his place for my cuts.  I anchored that belief with the long held desire I’ve had to have some kind of routine and a place where everybody “knew my name.”  I allowed myself to feel guilty for wanting a different guy.  I didn’t recognize it then, but I had always felt beholden to that place.

Not anymore.

I have a right and responsibility to myself.  And today I took that right and responsibility and I feel good about my decision.  My new do may take shape over the next several months, but at least I’m in control of it.

Yes, even something as simple as getting a haircut is something I’ll have to relearn how to claim.

And I’ll do it, one hair at a time.

 

Still a Kid

breathingI read something recently in a book titled “Getting Through the Day” by Nancy Napier.  At the time I purchased the book, I was having so much trouble getting from one 15 minute block to the next.  The title spoke to me and the reviews confirmed my suspicion… I NEED THIS BOOK!

The first chapter did not disappoint.  It confirmed everything I suspected and some things I hadn’t quite yet figured out. 1. My story is my own and I’m entitled to the feelings I have about it.  It may be similar to other stories, but it’s my own.  2. There are many parts of me (and everyone really).  I am responsible for all parts of me.  3. Self-care doesn’t come natural to traumatized children.  Even something as simple as recognizing shallow breath, the kind associated with fear and panic, isn’t part of the traumatized child’s psyche.  They accept fear as normal.

Breathing.  As it relates to me, simply recognizing breathing patterns, discovering hidden emotions, and taking steps to respond is not normal.  Firstly, I’m not allowed to share any feelings, so identifying them is out of the question.  I’m not allowed to be me.  As a result, I didn’t learn how to care for myself.

Self-care doesn’t come natural for a guy like me.  Brushing my teeth, eating right, coming up with a personal vision for my life.  All out of the question.  I can fake being “functional” (so don’t worry, my teeth are good :).  But, when stress gets introduced, everything goes out the window because I go into survival mode.  I may as well be in World War II with a rifle in my hand in the trenches of the “Western Front.”

Turns out, I can just breathe.  And when I breathe, I can more easily recognize what I’m feeling and then respond to it.  Now, when the cats are going nuts for their dinner, I don’t freak out and go back to my childhood where every night the world was ending as my parents fought and my dad gave me every indication he didn’t want me.  Now, I can breathe and just be here.  And be annoyed.  Because really, who wants an incessantly meowing cat?  It’s quite obnoxious.

And here’s the point.  I have to relearn proper self-care.  For something even as simple as breathing, I have to be mindful of my breaths and my emotions flowing like currents beneath the surface.  Because if I’m not careful, I can easily and quickly regress to my wounded child and right back into depression.

And I don’t want that anymore.

I’ll do whatever it takes to reclaim the life I should have had.

And I’ll continue to do so, one breath at a time.

The Best Policy

open door policySo many thoughts coursing through my mind about how to phrase all of this, so here we go…

Honesty is the best policy.  But does that necessarily mean sharing EVERYTHING?  Maybe not…

I thought about this concept and how it relates to the “open door” policy.  As a former manager in the Navy, I had an “open door.”  Anyone could talk to me about anything.  That didn’t necessarily mean I was always available or they could waltz in without an appointment.  My physical door, actually, was always closed.

Now back to honesty… I may have misconstrued something I learned early on in recovery and a similar lesson carried forward from my churchiness days.  Be honest, tell the truth & (with regards to the recovery book Victims No Longer) share “as often, in as much detail, to as many people as you can.”  That last one was actually meant to start to shed some of the shame all survivors carry.  It works, too.

So I shared my story.  Every detail.  The facts, my opinions and how I believed (then) it affected me.  I shared A TON. With friends, my colleagues, my boss, my family and my wife.  I shared different levels of details with those different people.  My wife obviously got way more information than my boss.  But they all got “I was raped by my dad during my childhood and I’m in therapy now.”

Something happened recently though.  Both at work and at home.

At work, I just got a new boss.  It felt bittersweet.  I had worked so hard to develop the relationship I had wanted with my old boss.  She was tough, but fair.  She understood I was going through something tough but continued to hold me accountable for the work I had to do.  I couldn’t have asked for a better boss during that time.

As I have begun to accept responsibility and accountability for myself, I thought maybe I shared too much with my old boss.  Like I may have lost the benefit of the doubt.  Like a bad day for me may be seen as a sign of regression to her.  I wished I hadn’t shared as much or anything at all with her, now.  I needed to then, but I wish she didn’t know as much now.

Of course, telling her was a part of my personal recovery.  I also discovered WHY I shared as much with so many people.  I was still looking as a victim for someone to make me better, to fix me.  I don’t need anyone to fix me anymore, so I wish I hadn’t shared some of the details I had.  I wasn’t prepared then and am only getting accustomed now to having shared such details and how to be self-accountable with those same people.

So, I am excited for a new boss and a partial “fresh start.”

And at home, I have started to notice my wife using my “mental disease” against me.  Whenever she gets stressed out and feels threatened by me, she uses the intimate details of my story against me.  It’s tough for me, now, to have a conversation with her because anything I say, to her, is laced with the consequences of my abuse.  I wouldn’t think the things I do or say the things I say if I hadn’t been abused or wasn’t depressed.

In short, I, me, was the “messed up” one.  Not her.  She was “functional” and I was not.

My internal boundaries have been so poor, I BELIEVED HER!

Turns out, with regards to the specific discussion we had not only was I not messed up, I was ON THE RIGHT TRACK both in recovery and life in general!  (I had asked what we wanted out of our marriage, what would it look like if we had it).  She said the question was “inconsequential” and everything devolved from there including her telling me I had a mental disease that accounted for how I responded emotionally to her remark, that I was part of a “crazy” group (actually a survivor support group), that I should kill myself, and that she wanted a divorce.

When I got to therapy (could hardly wait this last week!), I learned that my question was indicative of higher personal and interpersonal growth.  That some unabused men can’t even get to that question in their marriages, so especially as an abused man, it was a great question.  I learned a ton of good and positive things about myself, which I didn’t expect.

And then I got angry, angry at her for making me feel so bad about myself.  Angry at her for using intimate details about my personal story and using them as weapons in our “fight.”  Yes, she called it a fight.  Interesting, because it wasn’t a fight.  She absolutely nuked me and took me out when she called me “mentally ill” and “crazy.”

And I figured it out.  I shared too much looking for someone to fix me.  For someone to make it right, for someone to take care of my abuser and make my life better.  At home, at work, with friends and family.  I shared way too much because I didn’t know why I was sharing.  And when something goes wrong in my relationships with those people, they have been able to shed all accountability by putting everything on me, because I’m the one with the mental illness.

No more.

Intimacy should be reciprocated.  I am willing to be an open book, with other open books.  I am willing to talk about my feelings and work on self improvement, with other people who will do the same.  I will be mindful of the type of stuff I share about myself and my story and with whom I share them.

I need support and help, I don’t need a parent.  I need kindness and understanding, not permission to kill myself.

I need love and support.  You know, the basic human needs.

Because, as I figured out not long ago, I’m human and have a right to be here like everyone else.

And I will stand up for me.

Familiar Family

Addiction-Cycle1

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was spending time with a good friend yesterday afternoon.  Enjoying a cup of coffee outside on a partly cloudy, 70 degree day.  It was beautiful and peaceful.

We were talking about recovery and the cycles.  How we get stuck from time to time and we seem to be in these patterns.  These very predictable patterns.  They start by deciding to pick ourselves up, going out and “doing,” then feeling down because we didn’t do well enough.  The cycle bottoms out when we spend however much time we need deciding that even if we are “bad” and not “good enough” that we don’t want to spend a lifetime in the valley.  So we start the climb again.

We feel stuck when we’re down in the valley.  We feel mild hope and outright determination when we decide to make the climb.  And we feel bad again and get stuck when we “fall.”

The lie is that we need to climb out of the valley at all.  We’re not in a valley.  We’re on an even plane with everyone else.  We’re human.  We’re not bad or defective.  There’s nothing wrong with us.  We’re just like everyone else.  We’re human.  Perfectly imperfect.  It’s the persistent lie that we’re always 1 down and need to climb out and up that keeps us stuck in these cycles.  It IS a lie.  We’re not 1 down.  There is no valley and there is no peak.  As it relates to esteem and inherent value, we’re all on an equal plane and there are no mountains we have to climb.

Easy enough, right?

That’s not the blinder that truly keeps us stuck in these cycles.  The blinders that truly keep us stuck in these cycles is our pent up emotion locked deep inside the darkest recesses of our minds.

I learned this when I journaled:

“The more I take charge, the sadder I get.  The further away from my Family of Origin I get.  It may have been horrifically abusive, but it was familiar.”

What’s kept me personally in this cycle is the feeling of sadness that I’m still learning how to process.  I once said my parents didn’t prepare me for “this world.”  They prepared me for a life of followership and servanthood, a career best sought out in the military, where I started.  They didn’t prepare me to take charge, to be in control and to feel good and confident in my decisions.

And the more I take charge of my recovery and my life (they really are one in the same), the sadder I get.

It’s the lie that I’m not worth anything that gets me in those predictable patterns and it’s the emotion that keeps my stuck in those cycles.

And there’s my discovery for today.  I believe that I have the ability to feel those emotions, to accept the sadness and to process it.  To deal with the blinders that have kept me stuck in those familiar cycles and to remove them permanently.  Because the truth is I am worthy and valuable, human and imperfect.

And I can have the life I want.SUCCESS_by_the_chosen_pessimist

Acceptance

acceptanceIt used to be comforting.  It used to help.  It used to make me feel good and less crazy.  See, I had all of these doubts about myself, my story, and its impact on my life.  I actually thought I was or I was going crazy.  Because at the end of the day, we’re expected to be functional in this world, this present world, despite our pasts and how they’ve shaped us.  But for some, life’s experiences have a profound impact on a person’s ability to process and function in this current world.  As a survivor, I know firsthand how truly difficult it is to “fit in” like everyone else.  To “pretend” like everything is okay when it truly isn’t.  But what else is there to do?  “I’m sorry you were abused… now get back to work.”  That’s what it feels like, what it sounds like to the person just starting their journey.

So when people validated that my story is in fact pretty horrific, it made me feel less crazy but didn’t remove the need to continue to be functional in this world.  At first my friend, then my therapist, then colleagues and friends.  It felt good to tell my story.  And validating.  But I still felt a little crazy… something was a little off.

Then came The Meadows.  I was the only person in a group of six who was sexually abused.  Wait, what?  We’re at a highly respected, sought after institution for all kinds of recovery and I was the ONLY ONE in my group of six who was sexually abused?  Wow!

And then the tears came from my group members.  They told me things like “I’ve never met anybody like you.”  and “I’m so proud of you.”

I had experienced the freedom and joy from having my story validated, from having my life and response to my abuse affirmed.  This time, it was sad.  So very sad that my life’s journey had taken me to to the need for a place like The Meadows.  It is very painful to know that I went through something so horrific.  Sad.  Just really sad.

Because now comes the acceptance that I don’t have a family the way I think others do.  Every family has its own dysfunction, sure, but how do you seek advice, acceptance, and affirmation from a father who raped you?  I’m not sure I can.  I know I don’t want to.

And that’s just sad.  Because if I’m being honest, I had wanted that, held on to wanting a father, a family for so long, even well into therapy.

Now, I am starting to accept the truth.  The truth that while he may not have intended to “hurt” me, he did.  While he may have just been dealing with his own depression… he did so poorly, very poorly.  The truth is that I won’t have the kind of family I had always wanted.

Truth, my commitment to my recovery this year.  And it’s revealing itself.

And it hurts.

Potholes & Plans

pothole

 

 

 

 

 

I was beep-bopping along, not quite with it but trying to be after a good Sunday morning breakfast with my sister and her family.  After they went with me to look for some picture frame things.  I felt happy, or anxious.  Hadn’t figured that out yet.  I was rushing through my Sunday afternoon, trying to get it all done.  Grocery shopping, hanging my Africa pictures.  All of it.

Bam!

Couldn’t avoid it.  A rough, jagged, looked-like-new pothole.  Couldn’t swerve, couldn’t slow down.  Bam.

The tire light went off, I pulled to the nearest service station, filled the tire and quickly decided what to do.  Go home.  The tire was good enough, I was close enough and I would be safe there in case I had to change it.

Then I got home, felt okay, and started working on pictures.  I messed up one of the mattes.  After spending 30 minutes with the clerk at Pottery Barn looking for undamaged plexiglass on two frames, I messed up one of the mattes!  Argh.  Okay.  This project will have to wait to get done.

I went outside and noticed the tire wasn’t nearly as flat as I’d assumed it be.  So I went grocery shopping.  At least that would get done.

Monday morning came, thinking I’d have to change the tire, and I didn’t.  Whew.  But I still had to drive it to the dealer to have the tire repaired.  This was supposed to be my second week back at work and a better week than the first.  And now I’m stuck at the dealer not knowing what I can plan on doing for the day and it was survival mode.  Survival mode – be prepared for anything, I’m not in control, the world is.

Turns out, I bent the rim, they didn’t have it in stock and I had to get a rental car.  I handled that well, I thought.  Called the company, had them reserve a car, and picked it up.  Went to a work lunch and then continued about my day… or tried to.  I had an afternoon meeting with my boss.  The first face-to-face since I’d been back and my year-end review.  Damn.  That was going to take a lot, for anyone, and especially this guy.

So I did my best to get some work done, stay alert (first few days on the full dose of my anti-depressant), and stay present.  I was yawning, tired, and stressed out.  I tried and tried to stay alert and present and worked myself into a tizzy.

I was grounded, back, and okay for the year-end review.  Went better than expected.  These things usually do for me.

But what about the car?  I still had the rental!  Damn.  What about my car?  I was back in the city now and didn’t want to go back out to the suburbs in rush hour!

I decided to pick it up first thing in the morning.  Good call.  But I had to leave before my wife since I had no house key… didn’t think to grab those since I didn’t think I’d be without my car.  It was okay to leave before my wife, but I continued to feel out of control of my day, now day 3 of the pothole dealing.

I didn’t understand the significance of hitting the pothole until my Friday therapy session.  Hitting the pothole was metaphorically symbolic and quite real as well.  It’s easy when I’m going along, moving “forward,” making “progress.”  But when I hit life’s little pothole, I felt out of control and went back into survival mode.  But I was in survival mode before I even hit the pothole.  Feeling rushed, out of control, and like I had a laundry list to do.

Thing is, I never really lost control.  I was always in control.  I controlled going to the station, filling the tire with air, going home, going to the dealer, renting the car and making my appointments for the day.  I actually did pretty well, in retrospect.

Life is going to throw me these potholes.  That’s life.

Plans are only points of departure and if they change or get postponed, or even cancelled, that’s okay.  This is life.  That doesn’t mean I won’t make plans and try my best to keep them, it means when I hit a pothole, I’ll adjust accordingly.

See, my value and self-worth doesn’t come from having made a plan and completing it.  My value and worth comes from simply being here.  And I won’t let the stress of perfectionism inform my inner peace anymore.  I’ll do my best and I’ll be happy with that.

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.  The show goes on, gaffes or not.  Life isn’t about being perfect, it’s about how I respond.

And I’m always in control of that.