Who I Am, Today: Change + Radical Self-Responsibility

April 18, 2013

Recently, I put a post up on our Facebook page about change, and allowing ourselves the permission to change. Many people commented, but one in particular stood out in my mind. She said, “I might say it’s not only ok (to change), it’s suggested.”

Yes. Immediately.

And then, but why the hell has it been so hard?

A knot formed in my stomach, and my heart felt full when I thought about the relationship that I’ve had with change for the duration of my life.

Change is uncertain. Yes, of course that is true.

Change means I have no control. Did I have control to begin with?

Change means I don’t know if you will love me anymore. Ouch. 

Change means shedding the stability and routine of knowing exactly how things are. Terrifying. 

I often joke with my wife that I am a completely different person by lunchtime than I was when I woke up in the morning. In my heart, I know that the velocity of my shedding and evolving in the last year of my life has been both necessary and frightening, particularly for a reform(ing) control freak like myself.

It’s been a roller coaster. And I’m still learning how to throw my hands up in the air and scream with the best of them.

Laughing, we both talk about how all of us are changing all the time. And, yet, I feel my fear around the periphery. I know that I am making a joke at my own expense, and beneath the joke are the expansive questions – Will you still love me? What if I change so much I am no longer recognizable? What if you can’t find me? What if we can’t change together?

And yet, I must continue on this path. 

Yesterday I was working with a client who said, I just don’t WANT to change. It ISN’T FUN. I know that’s fucked up, but there’s a huge part of me that just wants to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I smiled. Yes, sometimes it is decidedly not fun. And, yet, it is rewarding without exception.

We are creatures of comfort. We will always prefer the life we know to the life that we don’t, even when we can unequivocally agree that the life we know is much to small or no longer serves us. But, for some of us, we hit a point where we simply cannot live in that too-small-life any longer.

The back-story

I grew up shutting up and shutting down.

I grew up tampering my bright light, because the message was we won’t love you anymore if you shine too brightly. 

I grew up in the midst of a family in motion, and the only way I knew how to survive was to create my own stability – in my body, in my life. My body became my home. I packed on layers and layers to take up space so that my spirit could move around deep somewhere beneath it all. Like a tent wrapped in comforters, deep within my spirt was a happy little wild girl tending to a fire. Down deep, she was safe and merry. She pranced around, made up songs, drew on the walls, stomped her feet, wrote stories, and took care of herself the best way that she knew how.

Hidden, she was protected. But she grew restless. 

On the surface, my life was tame. I relaxed into the comfort of doing what I know I can do very well, and swallowing the parts of my day-to-day that, honestly, were of no interest to me. I did exactly what I thought that I should do, the information compiled from years of closely examining what actions elicited the highest rate of validation and affirmation. 

On the inside, I ate my boredom. I ate to shut my spirit up when she inquired, isn’t there so much more for us? Can I come out now? 

Like any child that has been protected and nurtured and loved, my spirit grew assertive and powerful.

Radical Self-Responsibility

The thing about truly living your life is that you have to be willing to get a little messy. It will not always be beautiful or predictable, but it will be all yours. Sitting with your struggle will not overwhelm you completely – you will survive it.

In thinking about change, it is very painful for me to sit with the wondering about what the future holds, and who will be there with me at I dig into my life – more firmly and lovingly embodying it everyday. It is painful, because, habitually, I want a sure thing.

I want to know that this ring on my finger means that you married me, and that you will always be married to me.

I want to know that my body will reach one weight, and I will be that weight forever and never change.

I want to move into a house that I will spend the rest of my life in.

I want to let all of these things, this delicious stability, tell me that I am worthy and good.

For me, wanting these things is a part of my old script. That script directs me not to upset the careful balance of things, not to talk to loud, or  express myself fully.

My old script wants me to test the crowd, carefully noting other people’s energy fields, and determining ahead of time how I can tailor my presence so as to be received well. 

That has come at a huge cost for me. I am worthy and good, already.

For much of my life, I have been pleasing everyone else, but I have been alienating myself.

My spirit has been ripping down the comforters and setting fire to her tent and dancing in the light of day – and I am better for it. 

I am willing to get messy.

I am willing to not know how it is going to turn out.

I am willing to take steps forward anyway.

I am willing to write my own ending.

That, is radical self-responsibility. I take myself with me wherever I go. I am dedicated to fully embodying my life and my skin. I am dedicated to shining, even when it’s uncomfortable. I am dedicated to staying with myself, no matter what, all the time, without exception.

Are you?

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