I love the song Seasons of Love from Rent. It talks about how you measure a year in a life. As I thought of the lyrics, “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes” in a year…. I thought about where I might be a year from now. Where I was last year at this same time. Then I wondered about progress.
How do you measure progress? Is it with a measuring tape? A piece of yarn stretched out? Inches? Yards? A mile? A lot of miles? From here to Timbuktu? What is the litmus test for personal growth progress?
I have been working on my personal growth for over 20 years. I have never really felt “done” with self exploration. I read books. I search out information. I listen to great minded speakers. I go to therapy I think deeply. I listen to how my body responds to my feelings. I watch Star Wars. I pray. I talk to others. I look into my dog’s brown eyes. I try and I try again. I write.
Today, I realized I have been sitting in a place of shame on many levels. I hide my true nature, I do not move my body out of shame of having a body, I do not tell people enough how important they are in my life because I worry that I am not as important to them, I don’t always say what I feel because I am not sure my feelings are “right” or valid. All this is shame inducing. I worry what people will think about me or of me if I am my true, authentic self.
This all came to me when I was reading to a 4 year old child via tele therapy. The book I was reading was, “I Like Myself.” (you can see the entire book at this Amazon link) As I read, and the client giggled, I got emotional. I realized, I really DO like myself!
There have been times when I, like many, have not been the biggest fan of me. But those days are in the past. I enjoy my company.
This past year, I have had a lot of changes in my life. A lot of hard things and a lot of good things. Life is like that, isn’t it? I don’t remember a time when things were boring or slow or super easy. I kind of like life to be busy and then I like to rest and watch Chef’s Table.
This past year, I lost my father, sold a house, moved into a house, lost a job, got a new job, started a business, became a supervisor – twice, started seeing a new therapist to focus on my body issues, spoke my truth, deepened friendships, conquered baking cinnamon rolls, eliminated toxic folks, petted my dog – a lot, took walks, taught classes, learned, read, cried, wrote, hosted dinners, endured quarantine ( this is still a thing now ), decided to write something else, slept, ate and loved. I did all this while still being a person who is adopted.
Here is the deal with me and adoption. Yep, I am adopted. It never ends. It just “is what it is.” I can’t change it. I can’t erase it. I can’t make it stop. I lived small for many years because I felt like I should not even be here. I was a mistake. I should not even own a body. I started out as a problem for many. I was hidden and a secret. But, I don’t have to own that story as my center or my soul. I have every right to make my life beautiful as the next person. It is HARD, don’t get me wrong, to push forward when you are used to shrinking back. It is hard to step into the light when adoption has told you to stay in the shadows. But, I am moving into the light and taking my place at the head of the living life table.
I know Shame will still be around. I see Shame. I validate Shame. I don’t want to shame Shame. I learned that I can ask Shame to take 10 steps to the left. Not banish Shame, not exclude Shame from my emotional chart, but just allow it to move over so I can be a bit bigger and not have to hold Shame’s hand.
The thing is, I have decided that there is “no shame in my game.” I can be myself. There is no need to hide any parts of who I am. I can be outspoken, I can be shy, I can be introverted, I can be loud, I can move my body, I can have a tattoo on my arm at Church, I can worship how I choose, I can love God, I can Love Jesus , I can love Buddha’s teachings, I can learn about World religions to take in the good that is there, I can walk on the beach in shorts, I can pound on a drum with another, I can hug trees, I can fall in love with myself more deeply than every before. I want to live as Brene teaches – with courage, vulnerability and authenticity.
I am healing. I am growing. I am being as Janet as I can be. I am stepping into my full Janet-Ness.
Will you join me and make some waves in the ocean of life?