I feel somewhat obligated to provide some sort of explanation for where the heck I’ve been the last few months, maybe even longer. I kind of just dipped off the face of the earth without realizing, leaving a lot of texts unanswered and plans unattended. I didn’t mean to do so in a selfish way, and that’s a lot of why I kind of want to give you guys a glimpse into what’s been going on with me. I don’t think I’ve led you to believe it is anything dangerous or bizarre, and I’m here to tell you it’s not; everything is perfectly fine.
In order to explain to you what’s been going on, I’ll tell you about my morning. Today, I woke up, slightly groggy, a little before noon. I’ve been needing to tidy up my house (physical clutter = mental clutter) so I started by clearing off some counter space in the kitchen and wiping it clean. I made some coffee and found some music to listen to while I attempted to clean. You see, I’ve realized I’m horrible at setting and achieving goals. For some reason, I’m incapable of following through. But this morning, I was already feeling better, as I was mentally commending myself for getting up and doing something seemingly productive. I sat outside with some coffee and looked up to see clear, beautiful blue skies, with the kind of puffy clouds that look like cotton balls. It’s quiet in my apartment complex during the work week, so I just sat, closed my eyes and listened to the silence. I opened my eyes, looked at the green leaves on the trees, and again at the sky. I couldn’t help but smile so big and realize I am apart of all this beauty in the world. I am beautiful, just as the nature unfolding before me. I kind of had a spiritual moment, I even realized how happy I was as I had this little experience. A lot of the reason the morning went so well is that Inner Wave, a dreamy alternative band, is playing in the background, as my blinds are slightly opened, just to let enough natural light fill the room. I cannot be more grateful for the beauty of my life.
I came back inside and sat on my couch, soaking up every bit of this enlightening experience. With my coffee in hand, I started tearing up, and you can laugh, because I know it’s silly. But I think why I was tearing up is because I’ve finally started to grasp the happiness I’ve always been chasing. I’m even tearing up now, btw, writing this. For so long, I have been so hard on myself. So disrespectful to myself. My mind has had so much control over who I am, how I feel, how I perceive myself. Over these last few months, I have continued my journey soul-searching, figuring out who really inhabits this beautiful body and why she is so unhappy. For months, I have seen dark times, wondering why I can never follow through for myself and when my time for happiness would come. The funk, you guys probably remember me writing about a year ago, feels like a hazy iridescent cloud, never really seeing it fully, but always always feeling it. I am finally at a point in my life where the clouds are starting to disappear.
Pause. I had to take a coffee-making break because I just got emotional about the last paragraph. This shit is so real, y’all. I am learning to embrace and fully feel every emotion. Give it credence, give it validation, because it means something. Hopefully, I don’t lose a lot of y’all talking about souls and egos (some stuff is too deep to face sometimes 🙂 ) but here we go. I am learning that an emotion is a message from the soul. From the depths of your fiery being, a voice so sweet and caring is sending either a soothing accordance or a distress call. It is up to us to listen and open the dialogue.
So to go back in time, after I graduated, I decided to take some time off. I wanted to be fully sure I was able to commit to something serious and if it was something I was genuinely and unconditionally passionate about. I was so hard on myself for taking time off, because it was not the right thing to do. If you wanted to go to grad school, Madeleine, don’t you think you would know by now? My fear about the future put me in paralysis: I thought what I wanted was so clear, but my mental and spiritual being were not connecting. This paralysis forced me to become introspective, Where are these fears coming from? What steps can I take to eliminate fear in my life? Is this something I can do alone? How long will this take to overcome? The questions are literally never-ending. So in my paralysis, I became a workaholic, working late nights, sleeping away the day, just getting up and getting ready for work the next day. I hadn’t been exercising, eating right, and definitely consuming too much alcohol. I began to wonder why I was neglecting such basic things and tasks, why such trivial things can become the bane of our existence. I began to read all my spiritual books I’ve collected and delved into my crisis head first. It became my hobby. Slightly unhealthy staying inside with my severe lack of Vitamin D, but still healthy for my soul, something that needed love and attention for so long. Topics ranging from Buddhism, emotional resilience from a neuroscience perspective, and being mindful while facing the harshest of realities.
To summarize what I have learned so far is a few things:
1) We, and only we, have the power over every decision made. This can be as simple as deciding to procrastinate to take the trash out (not recommended) to deciding to get gas at pump 7. We have the power to control every decision made with a touch of mindfulness and living in the moment. We also have to own up to these decisions, and reassess whether they are detrimental or beneficial to our being. In that very moment. It is a very hard thing to practice, but it is possible. We can carry over this trait to our emotional being as well. We have the power over how we feel about a certain experience or situation. We can mindlessly go on about the negatives or how horrible something is, but we can also take the reins back and meditate on the gratitude and compassion each moment holds. We can choose to be happy. In my opinion, we must choose to be happy. We will lose ourselves immediately if we do not prioritize ourselves. I have to remind myself that every time I choose not to go to the grocery store, I am depriving myself of crucial nutrients for my physical body. I am also neglecting my soul needs for wanting to be happy, working strictly against everything I am trying to accomplish. Yesterday, I had to say, Look, Madeleine.. throw away some trash at least to get the momentum going. For some reason, it is seriously that hard for me. Anyway.. This was a hard lesson for me to understand and still is difficult for me to successfully integrate in my daily life. But you must be aware of the process, mindful of every detail of every experience. Only then can you truly give yourself the appreciation and unconditional love you need.
2) It takes some serious soul-searching to get to the root of fear. When I say serious, I mean Freudian fundamentals, y’all. There is an unconscious part of our being, full of incorrectly processed memories and malicious learned behaviors needing to be realigned. I took it back to day one, going through each part of my childhood, trying to make sure that things were correctly placed on their mental shelf. Of course, not many things were, but hey, I wouldn’t be able to experience this awesome spiritual journey with a perfect childhood. I reassessed my relationship with my parents, making sure my thoughts and emotions were okay after their divorce. I was a teenager then, so it’s very likely that things didn’t get put together the best way. I used that lens to examine my perception on relationships, unconditional love, how everyone has their own spiritual journey to go through and how not everyone is meant for the other during certain times of life. I learned to appreciate the union of two souls, however long the window of time, because from then life can happen. Realizations can occur. The hardest times of our lives can prove to be the most strengthening. It all depends on how we look at it. We can look back in shame and regret, or we can appreciate it and be grateful for the side-effects. I learned to analyze my relationship with my father, seeing how that compared to my relationship with men (who knows, they may all be boys) and why I made certain decisions in relationships. Today, I can say I have a wonderful relationship with my dad, which I can only hope to enrich in the future. Love you, dad! Contrastly, I looked at my relationship with my mom over the years and how this lens affected my relationships with other women and my own self-worth as a woman. I can’t be more grateful for my relationship with my mom and I love you so much! Allowing myself to look past the hurt and fear without attachment or judgment to the past fully catalyzed the reprocessing and newfound awareness of my childhood impact on my being today. This may seem really personal and raw, but it is all a reality we must face, as these memories can seriously affect your mindset in life. I am choosing to be vulnerable now in the hopes that I can inspire the same in others without fear of judgment for who we really are. Learning about how I was conditioned, unconsciously might I add, really helped me to forgive myself when I made the wrong decision for myself. We are all learning in this crazy life, and I must be patient and loving towards myself at all times. I am learning how to reintegrate feelings of self-worth and love into my daily life. It is not easy by any means, but it has been so worth it.
3) You should always choose love. This one is realllllllly hard to integrate, like when you’re serving a table who is not so nice to you, but you have to be patient and compassionate towards them. My mom taught me to look at others as if I were looking through a mirror. What is it about this experience that is either annoying or really awesome? What qualities am I getting defensive about? Why would these qualities make me defensive? How can I change how I react to these qualities? And here comes the hard part. Fully embracing the reflection in the mirror, even if that mirror is arrogant, selfish, ugly, and cruel. We have all of these qualities inside us, too, somewhere. I learned to look at relationships and conversations as my own self-assessment. I also learned to be patient, as everyone is on their own journey, and they might not be in the loving place that you are in. They might be full of self-doubt, insecurities, whatever. I learned to understand this was their own issue, something that I could not take personally and let it bother me. I hurt for the people who cannot fully embrace life in the moment, because I know the tortures behind the mask. I have fully felt judgment, insecurity, hopelessness. I am learning though, we have control over these feelings, and we can choose love instead. Compassion for ourselves. Compassion for others. Even when it’s so hard in such a shitty political climate (hehe). All we can do is choose love. It’s not easy though. I am still not a fully compassionate being, and it’s weird because I’m learning it’s towards myself. I have always put my compassion in others first, leaving myself to somehow figure it out alone.
But over the last few months, I am gaining the strength and confidence to be compassionate to myself. To love myself. To listen to my feelings and deepest emotions. To honor and care for myself. To notice when I am miserable at a job and my mental sanity relies on my happiness. To respect myself enough to choose to be in positive and supportive environments. Unfortunately, this has been a solo journey for me, trying to figure out how to fully conceptualize this knowledge and share it with the compassion I am seeking.
So what am I doing now? I happily relocated jobs, still a waitress, but I cannot even begin to explain the positive effects of a simple environment change. I have the happy mental and emotional clarity to experience work as a healthy, spiritually challenging experience. I work with a wonderful, eye-opening staff and could not have more supportive management. I am happy again, which is transforming my mental, physical, and spiritual health. I am beginning to be mindful of eating for my health, and I say beginning because I am still not immune to Taco Bell. I am learning to respect my body by exercising and getting optimal sunlight for my health. I am learning to say no to alcohol and late nights, because I deserve to wake up happy, healthy and not hungover. I still have drinks during the week, but mindfulness is key here. I am also exploring potential career options, with my ever-changing interests and desires, possibly considering the realm of psychotherapy. This would need more schooling, so I have some thought I need to put into my career path. I am still reading my spiritual books, and I’m sure they are most of the reason for my sanity, but I thoroughly enjoy them and learning about myself in the process. I am slowly crawling out of my shell again, and I could not be more grateful for my funk. You always think you learn so much, then you keep learning more and more, stuff you thought you were over. Life is crazy this way, and I’m learning to listen and laugh along with it. Life can be absolutely amazing without fear and attachment to unhealthy things, and we can reach our dreams if we just listen.