A few weeks ago, I said in passing to my roommate that I don’t like drama. She stopped in her tracks in the middle of the kitchen, turned to look at me, raised both eyebrows and said, “do you really think that’s true?” I squirmed a little and acknowledged that at present I do seem to be pretty well surrounded by other peoples’ drama. On our way to a fundraiser last Friday, my friend Roya overhead a phone conversation which led her to also question me about the drama swirling around me. She listened for a while then asked me, “What are you really doing?” I again squirmed a bit, but she waited patiently for me to admit out loud that I’m intentionally placing myself in situations where I can lose myself in the chaos.
If I’m distracted by someone else’s drama, I don’t have to dig into my own self work and the discomfort of examining my own demons. If I’m sufficiently distracted, I don’t have time or energy to think about what I’m actually afraid of. What am I avoiding right now? I’m avoiding examining my fear of being alone and my fear that I’m not good enough. Phew. Deep Breath. Admitting it out loud is a step in the right direction, right?
Alone does not equal lonely
I have so much to be thankful for. I have awesome friends, a loving family, a great job with several coworkers that I also consider to be good friends, church friends, fun opportunities and as much connection as I could ever want. A romantic relationship is not a requirement for me to stave off loneliness, nor do I need to contort myself to meet others’ expectations of who I should be just to keep them in my life. I have a long list of people I can choose to spend my energy on and I don’t need to adapt and accommodate to “fit in” – I actually need to make an effort to choose relationships with the people that feed my soul, and let go of those who stir up drama and distraction. I don’t need to place my energy in working to fit in, because I don’t need to fit in at all. I need to feel worthy inside my head and heart exactly as I am. I don’t need to wait to be “fixed” or better; I need to learn to accept myself as I am and actually believe that I am enough.
I can do better
Today I realized there is another dangerous side effect of my distraction strategies. They have worked marvelously to prevent me from making significant progress on my self-work, and they have also made it difficult for me to complete my professional duties to the best of my ability. I sat down with my supervisor this afternoon and told her I know I’ve been distracted lately and that I don’t feel I’ve been doing my best work. I owned out loud that I can do better, and told her I will step up my game. I also asked her to please let me know if she notices I’m dropping any parts of my work so I can ensure things are completed. I desperately wanted to fall to pieces and ask her to reassure me that I’m doing a good job, but I didn’t bring this up to ask for her reassurance. I brought it up to admit that while I am completing my work, I know I’m not doing the best work I can do. This is an area I can focus my energy and my attention with a very beneficial outcome.
One thing builds on another, after all. I struggle with feeling unworthy and unlovable and I cope with these feelings by distracting myself with the chaos of high intensity people in my life. In distracting myself from these feelings, I effectively distract myself in all areas of my life – I have difficulty sleeping, struggle to concentrate on my work, and find it difficult to focus on anything well. Not only do these distractions have the very real consequence of compromising my ability to do the self work necessary to heal and move forward, they also compromise my health and well-being.
Today I am letting go of unhealthy distractions. Some distractions are great, when they are engaged in with intention. I am going to focus more fully on engaging in whatever activity is present for me. I will work harder when at work; I will focus more intentionally on my friends when spending time with them; I will focus on self care and on self work so I continue to heal and become stronger. I will intentionally walk away from situations where I’m surrounded by drama, and away from people who drain me but don’t give energy back.
I am worthy, just as I am. I also can make the choice to be better – I will do my work more fully and intentionally, I will care for children more actively, I will focus on keeping my energy to feed and care for myself and for the people I love. I will also be patient with myself when I slip backwards and struggle with these goals.