Feeling the Hard of it All

It has been two weeks now. Two weeks of social distancing; two weeks of aloneness or very limited contact; two weeks of staying at least six feet away from anyone who does not currently occupy our homes with us. Two weeks and things are getting harder. Harder to deal with, harder to fathom, harder to grasp hold of in a way we can understand. I am hearing from friends who own small businesses and are having to let go of staff, people they care about very deeply. Friends who are considered essential workers are heading out every day and so are in a constant state of anxiety and worry about their health and the health of the loved ones they interact with. Friends whose jobs have been shut down or let go are struggling and in fear. Things are hard. As a dearest dear one put it, it feels like we have been running on adrenaline for the last two weeks and now reality is crashing in. I miss my people I am worrying about them, fearing for them in some cases. I miss my normal. I miss taking my daughter out for sushi. I miss going to the movies or walking the mall with my husband. I miss falling into the arms of my closest friends. This is hard.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to feel when things are hard. I am tempted to remind myself that I have it so much better than others perhaps do. This is not affecting my paycheck or my husband’s as we are able to work from home. We are healthy, have enough for our needs and then some, and are together. I have nothing to complain about, I am tempted to scold myself. But why? Why should I scold myself? Why should you shame yourself? What is our crime? Being human and grieving all this hard right now? Why are we tempted to compare our pain, our hard with someone else’s? Yes, there are people in worse situations than I am, and this is hard for them. However, that does not diminish the space I need to hold for myself and that you should hold for yourself, too. We need to feel and grieve this hard. I need to. I need to let myself admit that things are hard right now, because they are.

Let’s set down the shame, dear ones. Set down the expectation that we should be able to handle this. No one is handling this well, never mind handling at all. These are times for which no one was prepared; these are circumstances for which no one was ready—physically, mentally, financially, emotionally. We do not need to be the one with the answers, because we are not. We cannot expect ourselves to be the ones who fix this, because we are not. What we can do in this moment is admit that this is all incredibly, immensely hard. We can grieve the losses in our lives, whatever they may be. We can allow ourselves to be beautifully, brokenly human.

For me, the hardest thing right now is the unfathomableness of all this, the not knowing. I have no end to work towards or, at least, not an end that I can see. We canceled a spring break trip we had planned for our daughter. A concert Ben and I have been looking forward to for years is postponed with no idea of when it will be rescheduled. A belly dance workshop with a favorite dancer/teacher planned for my birthday weekend is postponed until next year. My mother cannot come to visit us for Easter. I cannot go visit a friend as I had planned. My weekly dinners with another cannot happen right now. My daughter cannot play with her best friend.

This. Is. Hard. It is, dear Readers, and we are allowed to feel and grieve that hard. Right now, we are in perhaps some of the softest spaces to emotionally land that we probably could ever be. We can be soft, too. I know it’s hard, believe me, fighting the shame. We are together in that, though we may be separated into our own spaces. Still, my little corner of the online world is a soft place for you to land. What is your hard today? What is your grief? You are safe and welcome to share those here. I see you. I hear you. There is space for you here.


Hide It Under a Bushel?

Something has been on my mind lately and I have, again, debated back and forth whether or not to discuss it here. The reason being that it might cause more harm than good, at least that is what I fear. Granted, my view of it may not match up with the actuality of the situation. Yes, I have considered that, too. It’s one of the reasons that I have been reading up on self-discrepancy theory lately.

The self-discrepancy theory was first developed by E. Tory Higgins in his work Self-Discrepancy: A Theory Relating Self and Affect in 1987. Self-discrepancy theory is an attempt to understand the different types of negative emotions experienced by people who hold conflicting self-beliefs, or a discrepancy, about themselves.

The theory is composed of three domains of the self, which are actual self, ideal self, and ought self.

The actual self consists of the attributes that the individual believes he or she possesses or the attributes that a significant other believes he or she holds.

The ideal self consists of the attributes that the individual or a significant other desires or prefers for him or her to acquire.

The ought self consists of the attributes that the individual or a significant other believes he or she should or ought to possess. An example from literature helps distinguish between the ideal self and the ought self in the sense of a hero’s “personal wishes,” or ideal self, versus his “sense of duty,” or the ought self. –   Self-Discrepancy Theory

I will say that I struggle with the “ought self” fairly frequently but my current conundrum is a little more…reversed than usual. So, as Inigo Montoya would say, “Let me ‘splain. No, is too much. Let me sum up.”

Almost fourteen months ago, I gave birth to my daughter. I had spent nine months being pregnant and dealing with all the body image and self-discrepancy issues that came with pregnancy: the loss of my figure, the changes in my body and emotions, the raging hormones, the cravings, the lack of activity, the being told “you can’t”, etc.  I spent this past summer working very, very hard on getting fit again, walking and working out every day, counting calories, and all of that. My progress was slow, at least to me it was. But now, after almost two years, I am within two pounds of my average pre-pregnancy weight.

Until now, until tonight and a very specific conversation with a friend, I never would have posted that. I never would have let myself celebrate that, not in private and most certainly not in a public forum like this one. I have been very scared of posting my progress with weight loss because I fear people thinking I am bragging or that I am shaming them, or, ever more the worse, them feeling badly about themselves, for whatever reason. I’m no worrying about what I am not. I am worrying about what I am. I feel like I ought to keep my weight loss to myself. I ought to do it to protect those I love and keep them buoyed up, give them no reason to be down on themselves. I ought to not be…well, me. But my friend pointed out, “But by doing that aren’t you doing to yourself the very same thing you’re afraid of them doing? I imagine if they knew that you were internalizing your sense of self-love they’d be sad. Does my loving myself make you feel down on yourself?” And, the truth is, no, it doesn’t make me feel down. It makes me smile to see my friend happy and doing well. I guess I can only hope that expressing myself can encourage others to do the same thing, to celebrate their accomplishments, their triumphs.

So here I am, honest in my accomplishment. After almost two years, I am within two pounds of my weight goal, I am getting stronger, getting my figure back, and feeling pretty happy with and proud of myself.

Thank you for listening. I leave you with this quote from Marianne Williamson that my friend also gave me to ponder.