Arena of love

Having a person who is your person to count on makes all of life better.

I had forgotten. I had gotten used to being the one who did everything, worried about everything, washed all the dishes. A significant part of my identity was tied to being the one in charge here, of going it alone. 

Everything is easier with a partner.

Having a partner makes the little things easier like cleaning the house and making time for exercise. It also makes the big things easier like confronting this fear of abandonment that has dominated my life. 

The only way to conquer a fear is to face, to live through it. To take a deep breath and step into the arena. In this case, my arena is intimacy. To be honest and vulnerable is to seek connection. it is also opening myself up to disappointment and pain. It's fucking terrifying. I'm much rather face a charging bull.

 I can thank Brene Brown's Daring Greatly for giving me this image. In that brilliant book she relies on the inspiration of Teddy Roosevelt (my favorite President):

β€œIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -- Theodore Roosevelt

I never ever want to be a "cold and timid soul". Never. So I keep brushing myself off and stepping back in the arena. Because I'm worth it. Because love and connection are worth it. 

And he's worth it.

Stories we tell ourselves

Last week I was working out in my group training class when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was stroking away on the rowing machine, half hating it and half loving it - like I feel every time I exercise. I saw a woman working hard. I saw a woman concentrating on her form and getting as far as possible down the imaginary river she was rowing. I saw someone who belonged in a gym. I didn't recognize her. Aside from the red bandana and the overtly American tank top worn half-ironically, that woman didn't look like me. She wasn't uncoordinated and fat and lazy. This woman was pretty badass.

I laughed at myself. It clicked. My Story about Me needed some fact-checking. In the chapter, "Exercise", the first line reads, "I hate exercise because I'm too fat and lazy to be any good at anything." Closely followed by, "People will laugh at me if I try." And yet here I was working out in a room full of other people of various shapes, sizes and abilities, including our very fit and handsome trainer and not a person was laughing at me. Or paying much attention to me at all. They were busy working hard. Just like me. 

After a tearful ride home, which is fodder for another day, I told my boyfriend about my experience. I struggled to find the words to describe how I felt when I realized that what I have been telling myself for so long was utter bullshit. I felt like I was "home" and safe. I felt free and comfortable in my skin. When I told him that I have always thought of myself as  lazy he laughed and said, "I have seen you relax sometimes but I would never call you lazy. You do a lot." He was right. I do a lot of stuff. 

Photo credit: Nicole D Johns 2015

My story of Me was written long ago. It was written by my parents, advertisers, Disney, the Catholic Church, my teachers, my brother, my friends. Some silent editors lurked about the room while we penned this Story of Me. They don't show their faces very often, but they are omni-present for many of us. 

Shame and Fear

Shame and fear are liars. They are not reliable narrators. Don't believe them. They want the Story of You to be small and easy. Fear and Shame write boring stories. Don't let them in your writers' room.