Once I slowed down enough, I started looking closer. On hikes, I would see some detail in moss or a bright lichen on a rock and pause to really study it. Internally, I would notice the way my self-talk was taking me down or how I had continued an unhealthy pattern. Inspiring or uncomfortable I found if I just keep looking closer I could break through a mystery that was eluding me.
I don’t want to sugar coat this for you, I found it one of the hardest stages of my healing. Looking close enough to realize it’s only me I’m in charge of and realizing how much of my own pain I was responsible for was heartbreaking at times. It was a time full of deep breaths and fresh starts, learning to be accepting of who I had been and more aware of who I was at that moment.
I remember crying to my sweet husband after an illuminating counseling session about some of what I had discovered and saying, “God, I hope I’m learning this lesson, because I do not want to go through this again!” The longer I live I realize it’s not that I won’t experience heartbreak again, but it will at least be different every time and that’s all I can ask.
I realized I had always misunderstood what taking responsibility for myself was. I thought it meant seeing the others persons side of things. I thought it meant finding the way in which I could be causing other people to act a certain way. I totally missed the part where taking responsibility for myself meant just myself, no one else involved. It doesn’t matter how he said that or she did this or even why because all those things had way less to do with me then I ever realized. It finally sunk in that all I’m in charge of are my actions and reactions.
I felt so stupid. I felt like I wasted so much time and energy through my life dancing around trying to get everyone in harmony. So much self caused pain when I couldn’t control other people. I felt so disappointed in myself and frustrated that I couldn’t emotionally let go even though I had intellectually seen this truth.
Here’s the thing, though, I eventually realized how very human this all was. Somehow my compassion and protectiveness grew into the need to please and be accepted. So even as I hated to admit how needy I had been, I realized we all need validation, community and acceptance. My job was to be patient and aware enough to bring things back into balance.
So after the initial shock of looking closer, I started to observe and accept. The observation comes easier then the acceptance but the two go hand in hand. Anytime I observe something in myself I don’t like, I take a deep breath as a reminder that once I accept this piece of me the struggle is over because it’s not about changing who you are but how you understand yourself.
At my core, I’m the quiet observer. I enjoy peaceful things. I get silly and feel deeply. I can be quite stubborn but I love harmoniousness and playfulness and I enjoy my streak of sarcasm. For a long time I felt I needed to stand out more, be less background and more in your face. That only took me further from my authenticity and eventually I rediscovered the love and worth for the quiet contemplative side of me. Only awareness allowed me to see the drive of my fearful reactions and insecurities, which would propel me into comparison. Sometimes I still slip up and let fear increase my feelings of separateness and comparison, but more and more I succeed to wholeness.
The whole journey of looking closer can be tough but inspiring. It’s like when I’m on the trail. There is moment after moment of looking closer out of curiosity over fear. Something always catches my eye and I kneel down to touch it, see it’s whole form clearly, memorize it’s colors shifting one shade to the next, so that I can take it with me, as a part of me, to be relived and transformed into a new and beautiful translation of itself.