Monday, March 28, 2011

Beyond Empty Spaces

I was reading a book yesterday and a piece of it struck me intensely. The character talked about living in between the empty spaces left by other people. Squishing herself in to fit the areas of the world unoccupied by others. Limiting herself to the spaces, to the experiences that others aren’t already using.

This resonated for me in so many ways. For so long I’ve thought that I couldn’t share the gifts or strengths of my siblings – my sister is the artist, so I’ve never even attempted anything artistic. My brother is the smart one, so I’ve never pushed to excel there either. And in the larger world of people outside my family, on some subconscious level I think I’ve tried to work around the lives of others. Thinking I was only allowed to exist in those empty spaces. I’ve realized that the success of others often affects me negatively – but I didn’t think that the reason might be because my brain saw their success and added it to the list of things that were now "taken". The space where they succeeded became already occupied with no room for me.

So I’ve been limiting myself to the empty spaces. I’m not sure whether I’ve been living in those empty spaces out of a desire to leave experiences and choices to those who clearly excel? Or whether it’s been out of politeness, an “excuse me, pardon me” kind of approach to living, not wanting to step on anyone else’s toes. Regardless of the reason, last night I realized that the limits I’ve put on what I can do and who I can be are illusions created by me. And because they are simply illusions, they can be shattered.

I envisioned myself as a pliable mass, contorted and squished into the odd and uncomfortable shapes left between others, like play-doh smashed down into tight spaces. But now, instead of staying there, I rise up above those spaces let myself stretch, experiment, play with whatever shape might feel right to me. It was a completely liberating vision. I want to stretch so far beyond those empty spaces I’ve been restricting myself to.

Because I finally realize, there ARE no limits.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Remembering Dad

2 years ago today my family and I stood next to my father and held his hand while he took his last breath. His illness, bile duct cancer, was asymptomatic until 3 weeks before his death. While I’m so thankful he didn’t suffer long, the shock of such a quick loss, with no warning, hit those of us left behind powerfully.
For my part, losing my dad so unexpectedly set me onto a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions. It’s made me think hard about the uncertainty of life. About the impact his presence, and now the lack thereof, has had on my behaviors and choices. About the meaning of this life and what we leave behind. About how I will be able to raise my son with the memory of a man he only knew for the first 4 years of his life.

I know he wasn’t perfect, but my dad was a great father and a kind and successful man. He taught me calm in the face of a storm, and how to think through problems. He taught me tolerance, particularly for those we love, and that as hard as it sometimes can be, to always love your family. He taught me a strong work ethic and how to be professional, and in later years guided me through my career. He was strong and quiet – he has as much impact with his silence as he did with his words. Which he chose wisely and carefully.

So today, more than other days, I wanted to pause to think about him and remember. I miss him.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where's the Damn Mute Button?

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been lucky enough to be working out with some amazing coaches at Crossfit Central. And in general in my life, have met some amazing, motivational people. They’re so good at pushing you to go further than you think you can, to stay on task when you want to give up, and keep you moving. There is one thing that I haven’t been able to get though – and I’m not sure its something someone can help me with or something I need to figure out myself. But beyond all the urging to “dig deep”,and “push through” and “don’t quit” – there’s a part of me that prevents me from success in some areas of my life. It’s a part that thinks I don’t deserve it. None of the great coaching so far has been able to help me overcome that one.

It’s pretty typical for me to go into things with gusto – tons of motivation, a clear goal, lots of drive. After a bit of time though, I start doubting myself, getting in my own way. It’s less a voice saying “you can’t do this” and more a voice saying “why bother – you’re never going to be good enough anyway.” That’s a tough one to overcome. This quiet, nagging little voice that I can drown out sometimes seems to keep winning out in the end, just by being constantly present and eventually wearing me down. I start feeling useless, even guilty for thinking that I can accomplish something. I’ll start undermining myself - skipping workouts, eat like crap, stop writing. The irony is that the voice is my own – what I’m missing is the access to the remote control for it so I can mute it. Or better yet, turn it off completely.

I hate to be all Stewart Smalley about it, but there’s some truth to those old Saturday Night Live skits. I need to somehow realize and accept, on a genuine level, that I AM good enough, deserving enough. I already am happy, already am successful – I just can't see it sometimes. In the moments when I do see that clearly, it fills me up to the point where my heart is bursting. There are more things I want and more goals that I have, yes, but those are also possible, and I deserve not only to try for those thing but achieve them. Without guilt. Without thinking that those accomplishments are for people other than me.

So in closing, note to self: Get out of your own damn way. Love, Beth.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Peace and Perspective

What a week. So when I last wrote, I had friended my old junior high bully on Facebook. She accepted, and then after some thought I decided I wanted to write her. I didn’t want to give the impression that events of old had been the focus of my life all these years, but I did want her to know the impact that her actions had on me and the fact that I still thought of her when I read stories of bullying. So I sent her a note. And not only did she write back – she apologized. And she alluded to things that had been going on in her life at the time that weren’t so great. And it gave me two things I that made me feel better – peace and perspective. I think that much of what happened back then simply wasn’t really even about me. I was just caught in the crossfire of other things swirling around in the world. Now, while it doesn’t make it right – there’s never a good reason for bullying – it did give me perspective that for whatever they put me through, the girls who bullied me might have been going through something equally bad or worse. Maybe at home, maybe at school themselves. It feels good to have some closure there, and to know that the girl who has been this two-dimensional evil figure in my head, and the shy, demoralized, fragile version of myself, have both become strong, compassionate, and accomplished women.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


So, I just accidentally invited my old junior high bully to be my friend on Facebook.

Here’s the thing. I was invited to join a Facebook page for someone I had graduated with who suddenly and tragically passed away this week. I didn’t really know him, but I was scanning the page and reading all the posts. Honestly, it freaked me out a bit – reading through the page it seemed everyone in my graduating class knew each other and maintained all these friendships from high school and remembered all these shared moments. Maybe I blocked it out. Maybe it’s because my parents moved after I started college so I never went back to my high school town for summers or breaks. But reading through the page felt like somehow I had missed out not only on high school, but whatever seemed to have transpired socially after that.

Of course I went into self-therapist mode, thinking it was probably due to the bullying I endured. I know that I pretty much spent every moment after 7th grade trying not to be noticed, so no one would attack me. It was a matter of survival. And then as I was scrolling down this memorial Facebook page, there it was. The name of the girl who, along with 2 others, emotionally destroyed me for a whole year. Who screamed at me down hallways, gathered her friends to do the same, toilet papered my house, and on and on – and there’s her picture staring at me 25 years later. Again, how odd is Facebook.

So I clicked. I guess I was surprised, reading over posts to her wall and her photos. She seems pretty cool now – a big runner, diverse friends, married. I’m not sure what I expected – but she kind of looked liked someone I’d be friends with now. I thought about it and was curious if I could send her a message through Facebook even though she wasn’t a FB friend. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say exactly, but I did want to say something. That she hurt me. That I think of her and the other 2 every single time I read a story about kids who are bullied, or who take their lives because of it. That I turned out to be a successful, generally happy person, but that what they did to me absolutely impacted and shaped me. Some for good, some for bad. Anyway, I was looking to see if I could just send a message without friending – but apparently you can’t. But while I was exploring the possibility the mouse accidentally clicked (or WAS it an accident?). So this person now has an invite from me asking her to be my friend on Facebook.


I guess now I just will see what happens. I have no idea if she’ll remember me at all. She certainly won’t know my married name, but will she recognize my picture? Will she just ignore it, assuming I’m some stranger? We’ll just have to wait and see what, if anything, happens now. Stay tuned.