There was a lot that I left out in my last post. A lot that I wasn't ready to share. If you want to hear (er, I mean read), here is 'the rest of the story...'
What I didn't share was that I let the stress overwhelm and consume me to the point where I had to be put on medical leave. The intention was to reset, regulate, whatever you want to call it - fix my body - de-stress. I discovered much about myself in those two months.
A fair amount of the beginning of the medical leave was to physically heal from my most recent health-related incident. It took longer than I thought. One day, I felt completely different physically, I knew that was a good sign. I was no longer ladened with worry that the pain would flare up, I could venture away from home. (I'm telling you - I was in bad shape.) I knew then that once the physical began to heal, the mental, spiritual and emotional were not far behind. I had to find a way, find a path to move forward. See, the problem had become that I was dealing with stress on what I now think was a superficial or upper level. I could handle the stress on the surface, but all that did (I now know) was push the bad stress lower into my body. And thus my physical health issues.
The most difficult part of all of this? I had to admit that I did this to myself. No one, nothing else did. It was hard to admit. Admit that I hadn't been taking care of myself. I hadn't been honest with myself. I hadn't wanted to look in the mirror. And I mean look in the mirror. I thought my running was my way to stress release and relief. It did help - I don't deny that. Probably more than I'm giving credit. If anything it probably prevented this whole mess from happening sooner.
Admitting to oneself that you aren't doing a very good job of taking care of yourself is tough. It takes humility, strength, courage and grace to be able to do it. At least it did for me. I fear failure. Period. This, in my mind, was failure. It hurt. It sucked. It was upsetting. I had to truly power through the easy road of self-pity. (Okay, truth be told, I did allow a day or so to wallow in self-pity. No more.) I had to face what had happened. Stress controlled my life.
I would like to say it was liberating. Probably it was, but it was more of a 'just how in the hell did I get here' kind of moment instead. Then the question came, 'just what are you going to do about it?' I reached out to a dear friend asking about meditation options and methods. I knew I had to get inside my body and mind to find the truth. I was certain there were going to be parts that I didn't really want to hear, but more importantly I believed that it would strengthen what I did have. I needed to seek solace within my own head, mind, spirit and soul before I could figure out how to manage the stress I faced in my job.
The answer surprised me. Shocked me actually. I fully expected to teach myself how to deal with stress and be better that way. No. That was not the answer. The answer was to tell myself the truth: I hated my job. The hate was the source of my stress. I hated so much about it, that I could think of nothing else. I failed to ask myself what would make me happy, satisfied, feel like a success. It wasn't this job. I had to be realistic though. No job, no life situation is without stress. It's the amount that you allow or the way in which you control it is the key. Stress can be good, it can even be healthy. It can make us grow. When it doesn't make us grow, that is when it is detrimental and it controls us.
So now what? I hate my job. Okay. Now what? Again, I thought my task at hand was to learn to manage what I had. I needed to start being truthful with myself. What job would make me happy? I have been a dancer from the day I could walk. I had very little formal training, but it is me and is my passion - always. Much to the dismay of some of my dancer professors in college, I did not pursue it. I was too afraid that of the chance that I would grow to hate the one thing in this world that makes me happy. (this could be an entire blog subject in itself.) I got a business degree instead. I'm nearly 40 and being a dancer is out of the question. Music is the other extension of me. I am passionate about music. Almost always have it playing in some form or fashion. What could I do with music? Not a whole lot. And finally writing. Should I quit to be a writer? It didn't feel like the correct option.
Then I looked deeper. Where in my current job did I always feel satisfied and successful? IT. Systems work. I needed to make a change. Whoa. Now what? I now have some plans and will pursue this new path. It is less about the process and more about the realization. I had to realize that I didn't like my job. More importantly was that what I want to do or knew I could do was out there. I simply had to be truthful - look in the mirror and tell myself this is how it is going to be.
The result? I have peace. Clarity. An inner sense of purpose. And the clincher, if I am happy, this job will provide me with the opportunity to attend concerts, take dance classes, buy books, etc. Therefore, I'm not giving up the passion of dance, music and writing. No. I'm transcending it.
It took 7 of the 8 weeks to arrive at all of this. I am proud and pleased. Did I accomplish all that I thought I would during the 2 months? No. Normally I would beat myself up over it. However, the same friend who helped guide me towards meditation, said something that I have repeated continuously. "Start small and be kind to yourself." It's mostly habit to beat myself up. It serves no purpose and doesn't benefit anyone, especially me. "Start small and be kind to yourself." Wow. It makes perfect sense to me.
There are other 'habits' that I had to address as well. Fear and doubt. It's habit for me to let those control my life. But again, what purpose does that serve other than to drain oneself, one's soul, one's spirit. Do I have fight against the urge? Absolutely. Through all of this, I have found the strength and courage to fight against fear, doubt and self-degradation.
I have no idea if anyone is still reading by this point. (I know, I can easily begin to pontificate and become lengthy in my musings.) Remember C.H.E.R.U.B. from my last post? I have gone through a lot and all of it - is of my own making. But when I apply C.H.E.R.U.B. to my life, it's okay. It's all good. It works.
If you are still reading, I implore you, look at your stress management. How deep are you going? How truthful are you being? How much could you gain? How much could you lose? Believe in yourself. You have the strength to discover all of this and come out okay on the other side. I started back to work. It was a bit emotional to admit all this over and over. I must have looked significantly bad before I left because numerous people, people that I saw every day would pause, look at me and say "you look healthy Heather." You know what? I am. I am the healthiest I have ever been. It's not been an easy path and goodness knows it won't be for you. But it is worth it. You are worth it.
Take care. Till next time...