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Self-Patience and Speedwalking

I'll do whatever it takes
To turn this around,
I know what's at stake,
I know that I've let you down,
And if you give me a chance,
Believe that I can change...
I'll do whatever it takes


And finally at midnight, on the eve of the last day of a tumultuous week, I have had the ultimate conversation of climax in discovery and stumbled upon the answer which is so easy and obvious and yet so hard to find in all this mess.

My expectations of myself are far too expansive and far too time limited. This goes for many things, from my summer hospital stay and the healing in my body to the wounds of my heart and mind and emotions. I feel the same about wounds inside and out: I scorn the them for not healing fast enough, and find ways to ignore them or curtail my own attempts to care for them since the healing changes can't happen fast enough for me to think that my efforts are useful. I set myself up for failure. It's self-sabotage.

The moment when it all came clear was when my Mom and I were talking tonight. She said, "You need to be patient with yourself. You keep telling your body and your heart, 'Hurry up and get in line because we have to keep this thing moving!' and that just leaves you with guilt and wounds that never really heal."

The reason I am having this crisis at the end of August is because, as I have said before - September is my New Year. I had a huge crisis last August as well with much the same issues, though in a different context. Basically, I was just saying that I wanted to quit, because nothing I did resulted in what I considered to be success. This explains almost everything that's been happening in my life - the constant feeling of time going through a sieve, though not necessarily in the same way my friends or other students feel it. I'll explain what I mean in a bit.

There are some other issues involved right now. For one, I have been experiencing all the common symptoms of depression - constant fatigue, random crying episodes, etc. and as I understand it, that's fairly common after surgery. It causes me to have days like Wednesday where I have no perspective and I keep feeling and saying things that I later look back on as bizarre and completely inaccurate as to where I actually am. I am too quick to reveal the thoughts that are present during these times of confusion, and therefore I find myself having said too much to a number of people, and I currently have no idea how to backtrack those things. It would sound like an excuse to merely say that I was not myself, even though that is the truth.

Another piece of sage wisdom that I am loathe to accept is that some people cannot handle receiving blunt honesty, nor can they provide it. I will continue to infinitely value friends and people who are more willing to deal with honesty in a pure and unrefined sense. I dislike being anything but an open book, and dislike all pretenses by others in that vein, even though my feelings on this are representative of a miniscule minority.

I look back on the last four years with a newfound clarity of why things have been this way. It has been a self-destructive tactic to see the incisions on my stomach and ask, "Why aren't they healing faster!?" There was no reason for me to ask it, no problem with the healing taking longer - no requirement or deadline not self-imposed to create the need for such pressure to be finished with the healing process from this surgery. It is much more self-destructive still to look at the rifts in my emotional well-being and demand the change happen now to make me entirely functional. Just like with surgery, I shouldn't be lifting the heavy things while the healing is in process.

I cannot continue to lust after the super-human. It is not realistic to balance my personal life like Superman tries to do. It is admirable, but implausible. I am known for my accomplishments, and I pride myself in being able to do more and be more and having had more experiences in varied areas than most. But try as I might to live up to my own standards and all the standards of those around me whose opinions matter on some level, I force myself into failure by setting the bar at a level that only a superhero team could achieve, much less a single woman with about 22 years of experience at this whole "living" thing. Thus I find myself marvelling that though I knew this was an issue, I have never put the magnifying glass down and seen it as the issue. Now that I have it's enlightening and sad and more than a little empowering. It will all be fixed if I don't pressure myself to have it fixed now.

The new standard is to always set the bar lower for myself. The first rule of anything organized is to always set achievable goals. Something that in the past I have scoffed at, seeing it as a mundane way to live. Process is not my strong point. I see a big picture, an endpoint, and somehow I will eventually find my way there. This time I'm going to take the same approach as I did to the speedwalking thing. When I first came to campus, everyone walked at a stupidly fast pace to wherever they were going, regardless of when they had to be there. Now, I'm all for speedwalking/jogging/sprinting to class when the situation requires it, but speedwalking through the University Bowl in Fall under a canopy of brilliantly colored leaves that you never see, through the piles of crunchable leaves you never hear, and past the friends you could have stopped to talk to... There is something wrong and empty about that. I made the decision not to be that kind of student, and it has meant something. It was a definable moment of my life as a student, that decision. And it was foreshadowing of sorts, looking back.

Today I make the decision not to speed through being human. I don't want to be driven. I want to be healed so all the scars fade. And if I give myself a chance, healing will be possible instead of immediate, and thoroughly finished in the future (however distant) instead of patched up and inadequate in the present and left there for another project. Why should I spend my life waiting for the next finish line when I could be fixing all the things about this leaky ship of human being as I go, as they need attention, without the pressure of a self-imposed deadline? There is no cause for it. To truly love myself and consider myself valuable, I need to treat myself that way.

Ever seen an episode of the Antiques Roadshow where someone has say, fixed a cabinet hinge, and rendered it worthless? If the leg of the most precious jewelry box you own breaks off, you don't hot glue it back on again. I just have this body in these circumstances and socio-economic strata, in this degree, on this Campus, in this city. This is all I have to work with and all I'll ever have. If I value my own potential, if I want to continue to achieve in the areas that I care most about, I need to slow down and make this permanent fix-it project a moment-to-moment, neverending process, and I have to be totally and completely okay with that.

So this is the new journey, the new year's resolution. Life is a gift and a rollercoaster. I've always liked gifts. And rollercoasters. So I'm going to take a deep breath and be myself as I am today, and be a better person tomorrow, by a few pounds or a few words or a few minutes. I'm going to find an appreciation of the slow dance of being human and the details and the excellence that comes with care and time and patience. I am ready for the challenge. Bring it on.
Tags: #big events, #life, epiphanies, vows
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