I think I am going through a growth spurt. I went to the doctor last week and I gained two pounds over the holidays. It appears that my girth, if nothing else, has gone through a growth spurt. I’d like to think it is much more than that.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working on being more intentional about how I spend my time. I wanted to disentangle myself from being overcommitted. I wanted to decrease the amount of energy I spent of activities and relationships that I do not enjoy. Going forward, I wanted to focus on improving myself instead of busy-ness and “contributing.” I really wanted to trust myself and my own intrinsic worth instead of relying on the opinion of others or the quantity of my contribution to form my own opinion of myself. It proved to be harder than I anticipated.
I took a two-month participation vacation from an organization that was starting to consume me. I was starting to not like myself and the way I felt when working on tasks related to this organization. It was not that anyone did anything wrong or that I did not enjoy the organization. It was simply some my own tendencies that I had to tame. I tried to rein myself in and protect my feelings while continuing to participate in the organization’s activities. I found the unhealthy part of me was just too ingrained and I needed to disconnect myself completely for a couple of months.
I finally voiced my reluctance to continue with another activity that had been causing me angst over the past couple of years. I honestly did not have sufficient time to invest in the activity at the required level. Also, there were some interpersonal challenges and confusion as to roles, which sapped my energy.
I stopped trying to be the driver of all the many relationships I accumulated since COVID. In my attempt to help people feel connected and valued, I began reaching out to far more people than my sweet little introverted self could handle. I continued in my quest for connection long after most of the world abandoned the “virtual world” and started interacting in real life again. I was typically the one who was reaching out to my relationships. That fed a need in me, but it also critically drained my emotional battery. I began allowing time for other people- people with whom I had genuine relationships- to reach out to me.
I expected that my self-imposed hiatus from the wild world would be pleasant, relaxing, and satisfying. That did not turn out to be the case… at least, not initially. In fact, after just a couple of weeks, I felt isolated and lonely and discouraged. I felt kind of hopeless. Maybe I was not such good company for myself after all. I struggled through the holidays a bit. My brother, my last tie to my family of origin, died this year. I had given up, at least temporarily, my involvement with some of my affiliations. Many of the people with whom I have the closest, more authentic connections were off doing family stuff. Nothing felt right.
I think my feelings were the delirium tremors of the soul. I was detoxing from this need for validation of my worth- either from activities or from other people. Unfortunately, I did not recognize this right away. I embroiled myself in another major activity by which I was measuring my worthiness. It was something I did want to do for some excellent, valid reasons. However, I allowed myself to stop focusing on these great reasons. Instead, I got caught up with the idea of proving myself and being valuable in other people’s eyes. I did not react well.
Just in the past few days, I’ve realized that I have been holding on to some resentment and hurt left over from before my hiatus. I stopped the activities, but I did not stop the unhealthy thought patterns. Thanks to a frank conversation with a friend, I realized my problem. In that conversation, I allowed myself to feel all the negative emotions I was pushing to the back of my brain, in an attempt to convince myself that they didn’t matter and that I should just get over them. They did matter and I couldn’t get over them until I dived into them. My poor friend was completely unprepared for my reaction and I am sorry she had to see it, but I am so grateful to her for being the pilot light that ignited the bonfire. Now that I have burned at least some of that negative emotion, I might be better equipped to trust in myself and in my intrinsic worth. I am entitled to be me. What’s more- the world is better because I am me.
People always say that there is no growth in comfort and no comfort in growth. I say that I see nothing wrong with comfort. People also say that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I say that I don’t see why I have to be so frickin’ strong. God often has to drag me kicking and screaming into the next phase of my development.
Still, it is pretty cool when I do see the growth that comes after the pain.
What have you learned after experiencing some “growing pains?” Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a painless day!