Phew, I have been struck by an asteroid-sized amount of negative energy and just plain bad luck this month, I tell ya. There’s been enough family drama to make me want to dissociate from the world, my wallet got stolen, and also I got hit by a car?? Life has been a mess. But despite all that has happened, I am here, in okay health, and also not dead. In fact, we are now more than halfway through 2018, and I’m using this as a time to reflect and examine the sources of toxicity in my life, looking for ways to either change my mindset or to remove such causes. This month is about recovery.
On a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I was driving on the freeway when a tire on the car next to me blew out. This sent the car flying into mine, dragging us both across the freeway and into a barricade on the side of the road. Super dramatic, I know. I walked away with a sprained thumb and neck, and a compressed disc in my back that’s currently making my whole left arm feel like a noodle.
For me, physical recovery is the most challenging. I like to move. I like to push myself. And now I’m in a position where, if I do either one of those in excess, I am in danger of not being physically able to move like I could before.
To lie down with a pack of frozen berries behind my neck for 20 minutes at a time was miserable at first. To not be able to bear weight on my arms was frustrating, when I’m used to doing 20 minutes of plank exercises a day. To have to pay attention to how my body was feeling and think about how this affects my future was a new concept. Just a month ago, I was constantly in an “I need to work out” mindset. Now, I am in a place where I’m telling myself “It is a privilege to work out,” and perhaps this is what I needed. Exercise is now a luxury to be afforded when I have first properly taken care of my body, and has made me grateful for everything I cando from day to day.
I love my job, don’t get me wrong. But it is a very physical one that can become quite exhausting. At times, I have felt myself grumbling in my head, “I have to go to work today,” which puts me in a bad mindset, making me feel likeeverything—from brushing my teeth to having to get out the keys to my temporary car—is a chore. Since the car accident, my mindset has changed. Now, I get to go to work.I have the physical strength to get in my car, drive across the bridge (when the stupid entrance is open) from Long Beach to the South Bay, and set foot in an environment that cultivates such positive energy for the people who walk through the doors.
I get to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives every day. It is a privilege to be in such a position of influence.
The same goes for writing. Constantly writing towards a goal can be draining. For eight years, now, I’ve been writing with the intent to receive awards and money,
I have been so focused on the greed associated with what I can get out of writing, instead of focusing on what I can givethrough writing. I’ve toyed around with the idea of writing with intent, but have never quite understood it in a way to mean more than “write a vague religious message into your stuff like in 7th HeavenorVeggieTales”. I get it now.
My past few projects have been me writing with a purpose, whether that be to represent the underrepresented, to shed light on the need for emotional intelligence, or to connect with anxious, emo, death-obsessed young girls like me to let them know that it gets so much better than getting threatened by a scene kid bully when you talk to her crush on Myspace. The simple switch in my mind that took the I have to write feelingand turned it into the I get to writefeeling has left me feeling refreshed. I get to use my voice. It is a privilege to be in this position where I can attempt to use my words and experiences to connect with others. I will try not to take it for granted (I’ll have to remind myself of this when I’ve been stuck on a scene for an hour and only have an empty bag of Vons tortilla chips and an especially long, obscure internet history to show for it).
Relationships can be a huge source of drama and toxic energy, and the ones that I get to maintain have seemed particularly cumbersome as of late. I’ve pored over past conversations and interactions. I’ve wasted hours obsessing over weird hypothetical situations that could very well occur in the future. I’ve spent more time wondering how I was being judged during conversations than listening to what’s actually happening. It made being around people difficult.
And then I stopped.
I let these feelings—these worries about these people go. What a freeing feeling it is to not be consumed by such negative thoughts for 90 percent of my day. Or to not accidentally spend an hour on Facebook looking at someone’s face and thinking about how much it bothers me. Or to not stress about how I will have to inevitably deal with them at some point because, as much as I’d love to, I can’t just go off the grid and live in Idyllwild for the rest of my life.
But I can release the notion of thinking I’m responsible for what other people do. I am not accountable for how I am perceived by those who want to see the worst in people and the best only in a selective few. I am not responsible for decisions people make that do not involve me or my input. I am, however, in charge of living life in the present and doing my best to demonstrate compassion for others when the time arises. I am in charge of reminding myself that we are all humans with the same capacity for love and hurt. And I could also, like, not go back and “unlike” every one of someone’s pictures on IG that I “liked” out of courtesy three years ago. That’s just petty. (But also some.)
Recovery is tough. Slowing down when you feel like everything is speeding up around you is tough. Not giving into drama and resisting the temptation to call someone out on their bullshit via a public IG comment on one of their selfies is tough.
Healing is a journey to be taken in steps at your own pace. Maybe one of those steps is demonstrating compassion and not trying to climb out of your moon roof to yell “what the fuck” at the guy who just hit you on the freeway when all he was doing was coming over to see if you were okay because he felt bad. Maybe a step is slowing down and listening to how your left arm feels on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “ok” and 10 being “like a noodle.” One of those steps could even be one moment in which you sincerely say “hi” to that girl who did you wrong and just leave it at that without mentioning you know she once said your haircut was weird.
I invite you to take a moment today to heal, to recover, from whatever you find necessary. Take a deliberate breath, take a mindful step, take your finger off the “post comment” button.