The Keeper of Myself

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VSCO/monicaobaga

A few years back when I was going through a very difficult time, some people in my life were questioning my resolve. My intelligence. My ability to figure things out and handle life on my own. And they said as much. It was like a punch in the gut. I vividly remember tears burning my eyes out of anger and shame and defense.

Their words weren’t true. At least I was pretty sure they weren’t. Were they? Either way, they flipped a switch inside me and traveled down my spine like an electrical current and this was the truth they ignited:

No one is coming to save you and you do not need saving.

You are the hero of this story.

This life of yours is 100% your responsibility.

You already have everything you need to make it happen.

But even with all of that smoldering inside me, the ugly words had woven themselves into the tiresome questions my mind played back on repeat.

What if I can’t do this? What if I’m not strong enough or smart enough? What if it’s too hard? What if I fail? What if I can’t make it?

And I kept coming up with one answer: There’s only one way to find out.

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I know a few strugglers right now. People in my life who are really facing some tough times. They’re at a crossroads. A fork in the road. Their futures are hanging in the balance, if you will. And quite honestly, things could go either way. And this is what I want to tell them:238e27af68c885bf3971e30846a2cb04

Dig f*cking deep. Deeper than you’ve ever dug before. Claw your way through this rough patch so that the dirt from this life– the disappointments, the heartache, the regret– the weaknesses that so easily beset you– so that it all becomes history beneath your filthy, torn nails. Find the f*cking grit and unquenchable spirit that’s inside you and figure it out. Do the things that scare you. Whatever the hell they are. DO them: But you’ve got to move forward in this life. And you’re the only one who can make it happen.

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And the funny part is, the “things that scare you” part for me? You’d think it was something, you know, actually scary. But it wasn’t. It was only doing things I’d never done before.

Actually, it was doing lots of things I’d never done before. But nothing truly frightening. 

If I’m being honest with you, it was about transitioning from a kept woman to keeping myself.

It was about getting shit done and working hard and feeling the burn of achievement and accomplishment and independence. And nothing has ever felt  better. 

A lot of the struggles and problems we face around here are very white-bread suburban issues– but sometimes the mental and emotional resistance we’re up against may as well be slavery. We feel powerless (even though we’re not). We feel incompetent (even though we’re not). We feel worthless (even though we’re not). We feel stuck (even though we’re not).

The battle I was facing was not really against a person. It was more against myself.

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Growing up, I wasn’t really raised to think this way. Understand me: I wasn’t raised to NOT think this way– but none of this bravado was really part of my Modus Operandi. I was always just letting life happen to me and then figuring out how to navigate whatever had happened.

Elizabeth Gilbert recently said, “Bad things happen to women who wait for good things to happen” 

Man. You can’t just sit around waiting for the Life Fairy to gift you one. You gotta get after it yourself. And it doesn’t have to be amazing to anyone else, as long as it is to you.

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Debbie Harry photographed by Richard Creamer, Los Angeles, 1977.

I started to believe all the audacious quotes I was reading everywhere. Believing that if they were true for other women, other people finding their way, they were true for me, too.

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Find something that speaks to your very soul every time you read it, reminding you how you want your life to feel.  Actively search it out and discover it for yourself. Whatever it is. Grab hold of it. Every quote, every song lyric, every crumb of inspiration you can suck the life from. Hang them where you can see them all the time. Repeat them like a mantra. Repeat them until you start to smile at them the way you would a lover across the room. Repeat them until you read them and your very first thought is, ‘Huh. Sounds like me.’ The bravery. The bravado. The badassery.

Donald Miller said, “The best stories have their protagonist wondering if they’re going to make it.” 

And I’ve decided I am.

 

 

 

Ditching The Jeans That Are Too Tight

I have this pair of skinny jeans that I can’t bear to part with, but I’m thinking it’s just about time. And it would also seem that perhaps I am not quite as skinny as I used to be.  I LOOOVE these jeans. These jeans have been good to me. When I first got them, they were perfect in every way; the length, the wash of the denim, the perfect spot they sat at my waist. And they were Good Butt jeans too–every girl has a pair. They become kind of irreplaceable. Women of the world, back me up! There are days you actually feel a little panicky over your best jeans and worry about what you’ll wear if something happens to them.  Because obviously, there will never be another pair THIS good. Well I’m there. I’m at the crisis point with these jeans. I’ve worn the heck out of them and they are now ragged and patched in certain places and a little too tight–and yet that hasn’t stopped me from wearing them. But it should. Because  no matter how much I loved them a few years ago–no matter how good they looked back then– they don’t quite look or fit the same way any more. And I own a zillion other pairs of jeans. So why do I keep wearing the ones that are no longer flattering? Last week  they were so tight that when I was leaving the house, I actually thought about throwing another pair of jeans in the car in case they were to rip open while I was out. For the love– GIRLS BE CRAZY! Why not just wear a pair that fits better in the first place?

Because. Because we hate change. Because we love the familiar and habitual things in our lives even when they no longer serve us well.  Even when they’re no longer entirely comfortable or flattering. Even when other people are wondering if we checked the mirror before we left the house.  (Which I did–only about 57,000 times. And yeah. I still wore the jeans.) And these things are hard to let go of. If we were only talking about skinny jeans that might be okay. But it’s not quite as simple or benign when it comes to bad habits, self-limiting beliefs, toxic relationships, or other self-destructive behaviors. We get used to what we know and we like it, even when it obviously no longer fits.

That day last week was the last time I wore those jeans. I was leaving a restaurant after lunch and promised myself this was it. I  literally unbuttoned  them on the way home so I could breathe easier.  I felt like a busted can of biscuits. (What a loser…I know. But you’ve all done it, so stop being judgy)  And here’s the thing- I had made this vow before. But sure enough I would wash the jeans and put them right back in the drawer. And inevitably, when it was time to get dressed, there they were. Right there in front of me. So I kept choosing them. I would like to tell you at this point that I have now thrown them out. But I haven’t just yet. I can’t bring myself to do it. I have this fear that one day I’ll really need them and want them and nothing else will be right. But to my credit, I DID shove them in the back of my closet. They’re no longer right in front of me as a daily option. And so when I open the drawer, I automatically make a better choice. That looks better. That feels better. And I’m quite sure one day soon I’ll ditch them for good and laugh about it- wondering why I held on to them for so long. Because as my mother would so tactfully say, “They’re just not your best.” And if there’s anything I’m after these days, it’s being my best.

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