I woke up with an emotional hangover from yesterday. Anyone else ever experience those? When the day before took so much out of you that you wake the next day still feeling residual emotions. That was me today--filled with frustration and resentment before my feet even hit the floor. And you know what, I felt perfectly content to remain there with my metaphorical middle finger up at life.
So, as I sat in the waiting room at my therapist’s office today for my regular scheduled appointment, I didn’t want to be there. It is generally one of the most important hours of my week but today I wanted to cancel. I wanted to sit like a curmudgeon in my emotions. I wanted to be left alone and not face any truths whatsoever. I was honest with my therapist about this and he went on to explain what was going on by describing me as a sponge that has been emotionally saturated.
I literally have no more room internally to face any additional emotional experiences (good or bad) until I take time to deliberately “wring” myself out. Until I do that, the flood of emotions I encounter, both by those in my life and by myself internally, will just run off and remain unable to be processed. So I had to make a concerted effort today to wring my sponge out. And that today looked like getting the older two kids set on auto pilot for homeschool and then going for a solo walk in the woods on our property.
The sun was out and felt amazing shining on my face in contrast to the cool air around me. My face was towards the sun, eyes momentarily closed and then I felt it…squish. I stepped in dog shit. Nothing can take the zen out of a quiet walk then having your shoe encounter a pile of poo.
And isn’t that kind of just like life??
We would love to just be walking along happily in life with the sun of good fortune on our faces. But then it always seems to happen… Bam! Life’s circumstances time and time again force us to examine the stink of hard truths not yet faced. I recently heard the term “constructive discomfort” that describes how it is in times of discomfort and hardship that can bring us to the place of biggest growth if we allow it to. It’s hardship with a purpose. So in essence, what do we do with the shit? How will it propel us forward?
Sometimes the biggest hardships we face are internal struggles. We all have poo on our shoes whether we’re willing to admit it to ourselves or not. It took me a long time to realize I had been sitting in my own bullshit for so long that I no longer could smell the stench. And that’s a scary place to be that I no longer want to occupy. I intend to live my fullest, most authentic life and that requires a substantial amount of walking through the hard stuff.
Sometimes I get upset that I no longer live in the emotional matrix I used to occupy. The matrix of “fake things are alright even when they’re not, say you trust in God to do the rest, and squash down your true feelings when they’re hard.” In a way it was so much easier living like that, but then again not at all. As we’ve all come to realize this year, wearing a mask sucks. The mask we put on to cover up our authentic selves is no different. Therefore, I’ve made the choice not to live my life like that anymore.
But there’s this weird thing that happens between taking the mask off the self and feeling completely comfortable in bearing your authentic self to the world. It’s the uncomfortable middle of being between the knowing and the new. The pull of old habits vs a newer, freer you. And maybe that’s because the battle between sunshine and shit is never over. The work from brokenness to wholeness and freedom will be there until our end. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Redemptive work within ourselves goes on until the end. It’s experiencing the warmth on your face, enjoying the glow of how much you’ve learned and how far you’ve come, but then feeling the familiar squish under your shoe. SHIT. The remaining shit of past hurts, traumas, and addictions that needs to be cleaned up and hauled away. The shit that needs to be worked through. The sunshine is still there but so is the smell. The victory of lessons learned and gone through that can be felt simultaneously with the hard, raw effort of self-work that still needs to be done.
This process of self work reminds me of the song “Bridges Burn” by Needtobreathe.
I wanna watch all my bridges burn Stand in the rain 'til the page is turned Dance in the light of a lesson learned, lesson learned I wanna leave everything that hurts Never go back to the way we were Set it on fire, baby, watch it burn, watch it burn
Maybe you’re feeling the same thing. Maybe you're ready for the page to be turned and those bridges to be burned. Maybe you’re a little like me with still a little shit mixed in with your sunshine. What are the nasties still stinking beneath your shoe? That stinky stuff of your past or present that you wish wasn’t there. Are you willing to work through it and wash it off your shoe with finality? Can you take your victories, your warm places in cold times and still be willing to take up the act of courage of facing the constructive discomfort and compost that poo into something beautiful?
“I resurrect myself every day, in every moment I allow myself to feel and become. It’s my daily reminder to let myself burn to ashes and rise, new.” Glennon Doyle