Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson.~Alan Cohen
Twirling in her pink tutu, slightly tattered and always a little dirty, my niece opens her arms wide, calling for all of us to get up and dance with her. She wants to hold hands while we jump, spin and leap around the room.
She shouts along to the music, reminding each of us that we should be joining in. “Papa sing! It’s your turn Papa!” Panting and out of breath, we try our hardest to match her undying energy.
After the music — she asks for Justin Bieber by name now — starts to fade, she drops our hands and holds out her arms again. “Ok everyone, it’s time for a group hug!”
We haven’t purposely partaken in a group hug for years now, but we oblige because her smile is contagious and her enthusiasm is impossible to tame.
I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.~Brene Brown
Do you ever fear that voicing your needs and desires —saying what you want — makes you selfish and will cause people to dislike you?
I used to be terrified of taking a stand for myself — saying “no” or “I don’t want to” or “I disagree.” I was so desperate to fit in and please others that I’d completely forgo my own wishes and innermost needs.
This denial of my truest self probably led to the anorexia I developed at the age of 10 — a disorder that I wouldn’t be able to shake off for 14 years.
Even when I got married, I did so despite my inner voice urging me to wait. Again, I listened to someone else’s wants at the expense of my own. So I said ‘I do,’ feeling slightly sick and knowing that I was walking down the wrong path.
I grab at my chest afraid that my heart might somehow explode out of my chest. I feel like I’m dying. I close my eyes and prepare for death. It’s got to be less painful than this.
Even lying on the bed requires too much energy. Somehow I manage to roll onto the floor. I am now literally laying flat on my back. My breath comes in short spurts. I try not to inhale too deeply because if I allow myself to breathe, I know that I will feel the searing pain in my heart.
So I hold my breath, anticipating the next wave of pain.
There are always two choices. Two paths to take.
One is easy. And its reward is that it’s easy.~Unknown
When I was younger, struggling to form bonds with my peers and muscle my way through the turmoil that is adolescence, I always pictured my life ten, twenty, thirty years down the road like an enjoyable trip down a lazy river — one that flowed effortlessly, guided by the wisdom I had gathered throughout the years.
I looked forward to the day when I could reach a plateau and things would come easily, because I had strength, knowledge and an abundance of resources at my disposal. I would be married with kids, surrounded by love that would never evade me.
To me, with age came certainty, stability, ease and grace. I thought that all of the awkwardness that comes with growth and change would be a thing of my past.
So, as I entered my twenties, I spent a great deal of time searching for “perfection” in my personal and professional life, believing that the only way to curb the constant upheaval from growth and change would be to find the relationship and career that would make everything else fall into place.
I’ve seen it happen so many times: In casual conversation, without really thinking about it, I start a sentence off with, “Our couples counselor…” and I’m startled when I see the eyebrows raise.
Amid what has become my utterly ordinary reality–we see a couples counselor–I forget myself. I forget that for most people, working with a couples counselor is the sort of thing you’d only reveal to intimate friends and family (and perhaps not even then).
But this is my truth: my partner of seven-plus years and I work with a couples counselor, and have done so since about the two-year mark of our relationship.