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this doesn't come for free

I’ve been doing a lot of rebuilding over this past year. Rebuilding (or perhaps finally building) my health, my heart and my sense of place in the world. I recently joined a support group so I wouldn’t feel alone with this journey. In our last group, we addressed what trust looks like. What does it mean to trust a lover, a friend, a family member? I said, “I’m working on learning to trust myself.” I said this because I am the one who has often trusted the wrong people and I am most certainly the one who hasn’t shown up for myself in myriad ways.

Some of what we defined as trustworthy:

People who show (rather than hide) themselves, their motivations, etc.
Good boundaries.
Willingness to be vulnerable.
Honor their commitments.

I realized as I looked at the list that I have learned through a great deal of living to be these things not only to others but to myself. I show up on time and honor my commitments as best I can. If I can’t I talk about it openly and without manipulation and hidden agendas.

This has not always been so. I used to be very afraid of being open and vulnerable and I definitely used to have a hard time honoring any commitments I made to myself especially. I would run myself into the ground and ignore my own needs for the sake of others. I would often let everyone down in the process. Not entirely but often enough.

After working with a coach this past year and really tuning into my own energy system and needs, I began to strengthen a lot. I’ve dropped over 30 pounds and three dress sizes since the summer. I began biking almost daily, working out six days a week and getting the rest I need. I’ve ended some relationships that felt draining and toxic because they were one-sided or unhealthy. I’ve been speaking up for myself a lot more.

That brings me to the point of this post. I am going to proclaim to the world and therefore to myself that just like the strong, limber body I am developing came through a lot of sweat and hard work, the goodness in my life hasn’t just happened. My latest workout is Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. In it, she says, “Those abs don’t come for free, people.” It’s so true. You feel the burn. You keep going. You wake up sore and stiff the next day, you keep going. You show up. You do the work.

I have done the work my entire life. I’ve read the books, gone to therapy, found and stayed on a spiritual path and stayed committed to The Journey. It hasn’t been easy.

Do I have amazing kids? Yes!
Do I know how to communicate well and get my needs met? Yes!
Do I have a college degree? Yep!
Did I write and stage a one-woman show? Yep!

Here’s how that happened: I showed up. I did the work.

The only reason I am even talking about this is because of the numerous people that I encounter that talk about how “lucky” I am as though the things that are blessings in my life just happened by chance. Everything on that list up there happened through discipline, determination and consistency. Sometimes it has meant standing alone. I’ve faced so much criticism for walking the “road less traveled”. I’ve been criticized for nursing my children, and practicing attachment parenting, for not having them vaccinated as infants and for spending my time parenting and building community. I’ve been criticized for not spanking and being punitive with my children but using non-violent communication and empathy instead. I’ve been told I was “self-indulgent” to go to therapy or go back to school.

I’ve done these things anyway because I knew deep in my heart that these were the right choices. This took an enormous amount of courage.

I am writing all of this as a way of expunging the remains of whatever crap I’ve internalized from others over the years. Internalizing the jealousy, criticism and outright verbal and emotional abuse from others has hurt me deeply and I am determined not to let that happen anymore. I’m also going to let myself take some credit for the blessings in my life. Yes, there has been grace. There has also been struggle and hard work and it has not come for free.

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