Bombshell How-To: Find Yourself When You’ve Lost Yourself

November 10, 2017 in self-coaching

A lot’s happened since my last “a lot’s happened since” post.

Not all of it felt fun.  That job I had and loved?  I stopped loving it.  I started resenting it.  Ultimately, I left it.  I flew into a tizzy about what I was worth at all if I couldn’t even be worth the work I was doing.  You may also remember that the last presidential election…happened.  Watching people close to me support someone who brags about sexually assaulting women – watching millions excuse so much harm in favor of helping him earn the nation’s highest validation – that felt pretty shitty too.  I gained 15 lbs of what I referred to affectionately as “trump plump.”  I glued myself to news feeds/social media and stressed about every headline, every shooting, every assault, every vote this year’s thrown at (and continues to throw at) us.  And through it I caught myself re-writing a new, old story – one in which I’m not worthy.  Not of self-care, not of protection, not of accolade for anything I’m capable of, not of enjoying any of the good on the other side.

And what, pray-tell, was on the other side?  I was forging stronger bonds than ever with kickass ladyfriends from my old job, from book club, from the gym.  I started learning, slowly and at the grace of strong wonderful people, how to alchemize anger into focus, into positive action.  I watched friends kick ass in so many ways – they’ve been promoted, bought houses, released books, crushed projects, had beautiful babies, made shit happen.  I’ve been in pole dance classes since January and am head-over-heels with the the joy and satisfaction of improving at something so physically difficult (it’s also effectively helped combat the trump plump).  Plus oh yeah before any of this even started I got fucking married to my rock-steady, giggle-inducing, scruffy-faced partner in crime.

So much big weeeee spiked throughout so much bluurrghghh.  A double-vortex tornado of that whole ‘being large and containing multitudes’ thing we hear so much about.  And lil’ Emily, plopped in the middle, feeling like a fraction of herself.  Wringing her hands and wondering who the fuck she was, where the fuck she was, and most importantly, how the fuck to get back out.

And it hit me, some weeks back.  After making it through the first few unemployment freak-outs.  After wondering why I’d spent so much of the first year of my marriage ignoring everything good in my home so I could obsess over every terrible thing happening outside of it.  After watching the glimpses at who I know I am grow fewer and fewer and further and further between.  After enough full-pint-of-Halo-Top-in-one-sitting (sidenote: omg) evenings, I remembered the opening of a Hafiz poem that hit me between the eyes like a fucking 2-by-4:

This place – where you are right now – God circled on a map for you.

Welllllllllllllllllllll shhhhhhhhhhhit.

I wasn’t lost (we never are), and I hadn’t lost who I was (we never can).  But I had lost focus.  I lost my vigilance, my commitment to the work (yes, work) and practice of living the life that I’m here to – that I’m allowed to - live.  I’d become a fraction of an Emily, and took everything around me as an excuse to keep shrinking.

And I’ve been making my way out.  And it’s hard and it’s wonderful, and my hunch is that it’s something we all do from time to time.  In fact, if I had to put my finger on the pulse of the world, my hunch is that lots of us feel a little bit this way right now.  So when you feel like only 90%, or 75%, or 2% you – when you feel like You Lite, like Diet You – how do you get back?  When you feel that small, everything around you suddenly seems bigger, stronger, scarier, and infinitely more powerful than you’ll ever be.  So how do you re-charge, become your full-fat self?  Well, it just so happens I have a few pointers.

1. Simple beats sexy.  I have a basic definition of self-care (eat well, hydrate, sleep, move), but I still like to sass it up a notch by bringing pleasure into those practices.  But maybe this isn’t the time to *~*ThRiVe!!!*~*, and that’s okay.  Maybe de-sexifying your self-care game, making it rote and routine, is just what you need to keep it manageable.  That might mean pre-prepping the same simple breakfast and lunch for the week.  For me, it means eating and drinking warm, aromatic, comforting flavors (root veggies, spicy tea, etc.) as the weather turns, and not giving a flip about variety or presentation.  It means you don’t have to psyche yourself up to don your sexiest workout clothes to hit up SoulCycle if all you want is to take Fido for a jog in your sweats.  You don’t have to be a rock star right now – you’ll get back there soon enough.  Just make it as easy as you can to take the best care of yourself as you can.

2. Don’t argue with reality.  You are not lost, and you have not lost yourself.  You are feeling new feelings at a new time and place in your life, and it’s fucking weird.  But every time you say or think you are not you or not in your life, you discount where and who you actually are.  Remember, this place – where you are right now – it was circled on a map for you.  There is something here for you, I promise.  Maybe it’s clarity (I for one have never been clearer on what I want out of my next career move or the values I hope to someday instill in my own family).  Maybe it’s closure.  Maybe it’s practicing resilience.  Maybe it takes feeling this small to gain perspective on just how large you’re meant to play.  Whatever it is, by invalidating where you are now, all you’re doing is blinding yourself to it.  Eyes up.  Heart open.  Be here.

3.  Remember who you are.  Maybe you already know what you need (that’s awesome).  Maybe you haven’t listened hard enough to hear it yet because you’re so afraid of how weird it feels to be this small (that’s okay too).  But I’d venture to guess you’re missing something – something that’s always been there when you’ve felt most like yourself and suddenly, poof, it’s nowhere in site.  A couple weeks ago, my friend gave me a tarot card reading, citing my future successes as reliant on “creative, feminine, weird sort of woo-woo type stuff energy,” and I giggled because duh, it sounds silly and weird and tarot card-y.  But then immediately afterward I realized, “oh holy shit I’ve completely ignored this dumb fun profound silly wonderful wise part of my life for like….a year.  And every time I’ve felt most myself, I’ve also been connected to wise, woo-woo, wonderful, weird women.”  Whoever you are when you’re full-out?  You’re still that person now, you just maybe left a few tools by the wayside.  Dig.  Question.  Remember.  What priorities, expressions, beliefs, communities, and commitments stand out when you see you as your full-fat self?  And how can you inch toward them today?  Tomorrow?  Bit by bit and day by day until you hear them whisper “Oh there you are, sister.  Welcome home, honey, we missed you.”

4.  Ask.  Don’t remember who you are anymore?   Ask your people.  Your friends, your parents, your lover(s), your coach, your therapist, your mentors and mentees, your soulmate, your brother and sister, your children.  Ask them what it is about you that keeps them loving you, there for you, remembering you.  Ask them for reminders.  Ask them for help.  Ask them for hugs.  Ask them for a cup of tea.  Ask them about who they are when they’re their full-fat selves.  Ask your journal and your favorite self-help heroes.  Ask your music and your podcasts and the route you take on your morning walk.  And when they tell you, listen.

It’s nice being back here.  It’s even nicer knowing I never really left.  And I’m glad that even just for a few minutes today, we got to share this spot on the map.  It’s right where we’re meant to be.