I always try to be honest. After years of lying to myself, and as a consequence (I’m ashamed to admit) lying to others, I have made it a mission to always be truthful. That’s sometimes difficult enough on it’s own, but it gets even trickier when the truth is not always so obvious, like when it’s buried under a pile of conveniently placed defense mechanisms.
I spout a lot of things on here and my Instagram account. Hell, I also do it in real life- to my fellow yogis, my friends, my clients. I say a lot of things about happiness, life’s purpose and the pursuit of living a full, meaningful life. I talk about mindfulness, being present, finding contentment within. And yet… and yet, somewhere along the way, I stopped practicing what I preach and so adamantly believe.
I didn’t stop totally; I’m not sitting on the couch every night with a six pack of beer watching reality t.v. But I am doing a version of that more often than I like to admit, and certainly more than would ever show up on my social media accounts. But the only way to get somewhere is to acknowledge where you actually are now, so here I am, admitting it to myself and whoever else would like to read it. I am not living a full, present, meaningful life. I am not taking care of myself in all the ways I know work for me. And I’ve been blaming it on everyone else as a way of not holding myself accountable, as a way of throwing myself a pity party and hoping that someone will let me off the hook.
The truth is, I’ve been ashamed. I’ve watched myself care less and less about what I put in my mouth, avoided the mirror, told myself my pants are only tight because they just came out of the dryer. I’ve convinced myself I’m still exercising as much as I used to, that I’m working in every way possible to be the best psychologist I can, or always striving for growth. I’ve desperately clung to the old version of me and tried to pretend like she’s still actively around, but to quote S.E Hinton’s Ponyboy: “I lie to myself all the time, but I never believe me.”
This isn’t just about vanity, though. In fact, when I try to motivate myself through that route, it doesn’t work, which is how I know it’s true. No, this is about more than tight fitting pants. This is about how I feel on the inside. How different I feel when I’m eating vegetables instead of pizza, when I’m getting up and meditating vs drinking too much wine the night before and sleeping in, when I’m spending my time watching t.v. instead of doing the things I’m passionate about, like reading and writing. This is about me living a muted version of life because somewhere along the way, I gave into fear and started to act as if these things no longer mattered.
Let me tell you something I have to keep learning over and over again- Everything matters a lot and hardly at all. In the broad scheme of things, one more glass of wine isn’t going to do much harm, but it will keep me from doing something that truly feeds me. One more slice of pizza isn’t going to mal-nourish me, but it certainly won’t help. Not writing for a week is perfectly fine, but eventually, that adds up and before you know it, three years have passed since you’ve done the thing you love to do most.
Reading that last line is brutal for me. I want to avoid it, I want to give excuses, fight, deny, give you all the “yes buts” I can. But there it is, the truth. The harsh reality of where I’ve let my life slip because I started blaming everyone else for where and what I’m not.
I was with friends in Chicago this past weekend. We had a lot of conversations about what it was like when we all lived there, made wishes that it could be like that again. And that’s when I realized it: I have been holding onto a version of my life that no longer exists, looking at the one I have now, deeming it not as good, and temper tantruming my way into my own misery. I have been acting as if life is happening to me instead acting on life.
When I got home, I did a little more of this- I sulked, I stomped my feet, and crossed my arms against my current circumstances. And then I got really, really annoyed with myself. So I laced up my running shoes and ran. And while I was running, I thought of the ways I need to change. I connected with those parts of me I haven’t felt in a very long time. And part of me believed that, from then on, things would be different.
I’ve always wished that the tough parts of my life could be like a movie montage- when a sudden moment of realization opens up to a fervor of positive life change. A before and after picture without all the work in between. Then the credits role and I’m living a fail-free life. Except life doesn’t quite work that way.
The truth (there’s that word again) is that things won’t be a breeze now. I know I’ll have setbacks, that I’ll end up in a lump on the couch playing myself a tiny little violin. But I also know I have been here before and can find my way out again. I have to put my faith back into myself- because as harsh as it is, no one else will or can make my life one I want to live other than me. In fact, no one cares about my dreams, my fails, my life as much as I do.
I spend a lot of time looking at and posting a lot of pretty pictures and inspirational messages. And I will continue to do that, but there has to be a place for honesty because it holds me much more accountable. And, for everyone else out there, I think it’s nice to know the reality behind the page, the humanness behind the account, and that we all struggle to do our best sometimes.