This is how it was for me during this past holiday season. Extraordinary family dynamics sent me swirling and whirling; I was reacting in ways that didn’t really reflect the significance of the event. My emotions roller coastered all over the place, from sadness to resentment to frustration to anger. And then I found myself going down the rabbit hole of negative self talk. Of feeling small and worthless. Of acting lackluster and withdrawn. It took fun out of the holidays, a time of year that I have always loved and cherished.
You see, I’ve worked really hard during the past few years to remove myself from situations and people that trigger these feelings in me. And when I am faced with these kinds of circumstances, its become my habit to practice awareness, and then withdraw or stay neutral. But this got to my soft spot, involving my children, and I began the tumble and was unable to center myself before I went over the edge. After so much spent energy and unhappiness, I knew I had to stop reacting. The emotions I was having seemed so misaligned, I decided to take the time to look inward and figure out why it was affecting me so deeply. I discovered that the situation was triggering old buried feelings that I thought I had overcome. With awareness and discernment, I began to understand that I was taking things personally, making assumptions, and trying to fix it. Those three actions never accomplish good results. What a relief it was to see that and then let it go!
So you might be wondering why the group picture of us in our swim suits and how that fits into this story. At the moment I let go of trying to fix the family situation, I experienced an amazing feeling of exuberance and freedom. I was no longer willing to be the fixer, taking care of everyone else’s problems, putting myself in that old role, playing it safe and small. It’s time for me to step into my life in a bigger way.
My friends had planned to do a polar dip in the ocean in honor of the New Year and so I decided to join them. I almost chickened out—I considered playing it safe and going to the gym instead. And then I realized that this was a great way to symbolically wash away the feelings I’d been experiencing, and replace the dread with an invigorating fresh start. Perfect for the New Year!
We ran into the water and jumped in. It was hard to breath, the water was so cold. We agreed each of us had to catch one wave before heading back to shore. I dove in, and as I rode the short wave, my body came alive, my head cleared and my heart remembered. I was no longer willing to be angry about the situation. Instead I focused on sending waves of love to everyone involved, waves of gratitude for lessons learned, and waves of peace to mend the hurt.
My intentions for this year are simple. Take a pause, practice awareness, and live life bigger and more fully. Jump into the ocean more often. Have fun and love more. What are yours?