I like to run.
If you have followed me for a while you know I often train for and run races, but you might not know that I also often run in life from conflict and discomfort. I’m human and I bet you can relate and do similar things too. I run or avoid difficult situations, especially at work and with relationships. I can get uncomfortable when others have differing of opinions, or when they do not see things my way or, God forbid, offer me helpful, critical feedback that I do not agree with (or do not want to hear).
When I am uncomfortable or in a situation that points out a weakness of mine, like being selfish, self-centered, creating my own stories in my head, my go to is to leave, escape, ignore, exit or blame the other person of who is, clearly at fault. I know this is not who I want to be. I want to be someone who can stay and feel and navigate through these situations because I’ve stayed enough times to know that incredible beauty and growth lies on the other side of staying.
Gratefully, I identified this character flaw in myself years ago and I set out to work on getting better at not running.
So, as you can imagine I have been given lots of test of discomfort to see how my “working on it” has been going.
Result: I still run a lot, but I also stay a lot more than I used to.
I got another chance to stay recently. Here’s how it went.
My beau and I were on the phone talking our love coo’s like we do every night. But the cooing was not so loving and the energy was zapped from our convo because I decided just before he called to start cleaning out of my closet the clothes that currently are not fitting me and have not for about 1 year (thank you, thyroid). I feel a bit ashamed about it and embarrassed (which is for another post). I still want to feel beautiful and wear the clothes I cannot. In the moment, I did not clearly realize how this was effecting me, but I can now.
Lover asked how my day was.
I was cleaning out a closet of beautiful clothes I wanted to wear but could not because I cannot get the zippers to shut and I’d had a frustrating day of work.
My response was something like, “Terrible, I am a failure, I can’t even lose weight, I eat right, I am exercising, I am paying so much money for so many vitamins, I am meditating, I was home by myself all day (I hate working at home by myself some days). My life is a mess and it is never going to get better.” And it probably ended with, haven’t I been through enough. Poor me.
Lover, being the mature man that he is said why don’t we stop this convo and prioritize it for the weekend. He’s so mature.
We got off. I cried in my pity pool.
Saturday night at dinner I said, hey, lets talk about our convo this week. (Side note: My hope was that he was going to fix my unhappiness and make all the above better – not sure how, but I though he could some how be the hero. Enter setting him up for failure.)
He proceeds to share with me that he is challenged by my negativity, he is fearful of how far down the spiral I can go and fearful of me dragging him with me and sabotaging all the great things we are doing when I am in those moments. He said he feels like he can’t help me at all when I am there.
When he said that I felt like a wind of I gotta get the hell out of here blew in and certainly had to take me out of my seat and anywhere but there.
Hearing the man I love, the steady, supportive, knows me better than anyone man say that made me feel like crap.
So, I didn’t say anything. I shut up and shut down.
I started to think of any and everything I could to hurt him back. I wanted to spit mean words back in his face.
I began to conceive ways of how I could join that wind and get the heck out. How could I leave and get somewhere else?
I analyzed what he said in my head and realized what he really said was, I am the most negative person he knows, all my failures in my entire life are because I am negative, I am not able to lose the weight because I am negative, my career is not going where I want because I am negative. (I was so grateful my mind confirmed all the things he meant to say, but did not say.)
And then I prayed. I said Jesus, I need you here because I don’t know what to do. And I said it again. and again.
We went home. I stayed silent. I knew the right thing to do, but I just could not do it. I knew I needed to apologize and share what I was really feeling.
I fantasized about leaving again.
And then, I muttered, “You embarrassed me. What you said embarrassed me and I am ashamed that I get negative. I know we have things to be grateful for and I don’t know how I forget about it in those moments. I want to get better.”
And he said, “I agree. We can work on that together.”
What?! He’s so mature.
I walked away, read a devotional that shared with me that “gratitude is a practice,” it isn’t something that just happens, it’s a practice that we have to work at. My light bulb went off. I needed that right in that moment.
I wasn’t a failure. I just needed to practice a bit more. I could practice looking at all I did have – great health, an awesome boyfriend, loving family, a place I love to live – and stop dragging myself into the things I feel aren’t where I want them to be.
Thank you, God. Thank you for showing up.
After digesting that truth and writing a bit on it. I walked back to the couch, curled up beside the man I love, with the fireplace burning, and said I love you, I’m sorry. He thanked me for sharing and held me as we snuggled in and watched tv.
I knew then something shifted for us because he chose to give me honest feedback (which I have been begging for, by the way) and I chose to stay when he offered it (even when it wasn’t wrapped just the way I wanted to receive it).
I was reminded how beautiful and hard it is to stay and how many times I escaped by numbing, eating too much, not eating at all or running too long or creating a big dramatic lie about what was going on and how horrible the other person is.
I’m glad I have the tools now and relationship with God to stay because I grew so much from that. I learned that I don’t die on the other side of staying, I don’t melt away into a shame-filled ball of nothing, I don’t get smooshed by the other person and become their “less-than.” I actually become stronger and more able and more filled with love.
And so, I stay.
And I hope I’ll be brave enough to do it again.
Here is the love note I wrote to myself the next day because I need to be reminded of the love.
What an awesome experience. You received feedback on your attitude and you stayed. He was honest and shared with you. He opened up with you. You weren’t awesome with the feedback. You took it and acted immature for awhile, but then, but then you realized that you were trying to run, you were trying to escape. You realized that the feeling of rejection and being a bad person was not true. You realized you were in the game and then you stayed. You were not perfect in apologizing, but you stayed and your tried. You thanked for the feedback and suggested ways to try to get better. You asked God into the situation. You wrote. AND THEN YOU WENT BACK. You told ego to hit the road and you went back and let him love you and loved him. You did not run, you did not eat, you did not lie in your head, you did not hurt him back because he hurt you. You learned that gratitude is a practice. and accepted that you could practice it a bit more. You learned that this is what he has been saying about how he wants to communicate and you are now practicing it. You learned that you do look at life negatively sometimes and it is pretty important to figure out how to be happy. Being happy whenever things are in your control is not really happiness. It’s not the game you’re in for. The game you’re in for the ring you were in yesterday and I am proud of you for staying and listening and learning.
Here’s to staying.
In health and healing,