It’s 4am; the world is dark and silent.
After tossing and turning for hours, I give up hope of sleep and tiptoe downstairs in the predawn darkness.
I prowl through the house, restless and edgy. It makes me uncomfortable, this sleeplessness, because it reminds me of old behaviors. When I was drinking I never slept well, and would often find myself sitting on my couch in the middle of the night, pondering about where things went wrong, and searching desperately for answers just about any place except where I needed to look.
I try to read, but my eyes skip across the page, unable to absorb a single word. In desperation, I step quietly outside onto the porch to feel the cool early morning air on my skin.
As the very first wisps of light appear on the horizon, I sit and think. And think.
I don’t like how I’m feeling these days, and I try to figure out what it at the root of it all. All I know for sure is I can’t seem to shake this restless feeling.
Finally, I slide down onto my knees. I haven’t done this for a long time, and I feel self-conscious, silly.
I stay on my knees, my mind a blank slate, and wait for some kind of answer to appear. When it does, it’s so obvious I almost laugh.
I can’t get out of my own way. I’m over thinking, restless and edgy, wondering about the point of everything. I’m groping for satisfaction like a drowning woman searching for a life preserver, thinking if I try hard enough it will appear. I’m living life like there’s a finish line just out of reach, a magical moment that will appear when I can say: there! I’ve arrived!
By now I should know that when I’m dissatisfied with everything around me, the problem lies within. I’ve wrapped my stubborn hands around the steering wheel again; I’m revving the gas but stuck in neutral. I’m caught in that web of self, where I think I can fix everything if I try harder.
That’s the funny thing about control; you can never have enough of it and you can lose yourself in the trying.
I came very close to throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Yesterday’s post is a telling example of my profound dissatisfaction. I was ready to shut down the business, chuck it all away because it isn’t growing fast enough to keep up with my out-of-control expectations.
I’m in that place, again, where I’m searching for self-worth based on what I do, rather than who I am; I've wrapped my identity up in whether (or not) I’m a meaningful financial contributor. I tap my existential foot and think: I’ve been doing this for three years now, I should have more to show for it. What’s the point of the long hours, the constant juggling of my kids’ schedules, keeping up a household and maintaining a foothold in the social media world? It’s all just one great big shiny object meant to keep me from going nuts, but it will never amount to anything.
Perched on my knees outside in the chilly dawn air this morning it finally hit me: of course I’m dissatisfied, because I’m not doing my best and then letting go of the outcome. Instead, I’m looking at the world through my own skewed frame of reference, because when I’m in control I’m never trying hard enough, never succeeding, because the only way my brain knows how to motivate itself is to keep moving the bar just out of reach, hold myself up against all I haven’t accomplished, instead of all that I have.
When I surrender, get out of the way - work hard but with a grateful heart - I have peace of mind, because I’m letting things unfold the way they are meant to, in their own time.
In early sobriety people would prattle on and on about surrender, and I would think they all sounded like a bunch of quitters. Which, ironically, they were. They quit drinking, quit manufacturing the feelings they wanted, quit thinking they were ultimately in control.
Now I understand surrender, although it’s a difficult thing to actually do. Getting out of the way feels like giving up, but in reality it is giving over.
I have a visual I use when I need to surrender. I picture myself hauling around a heavy sack full of expectations and desired outcomes, slung over my shoulder and weighing me down.
This morning I mentally unclenched my hands, dropped the heavy sack, and walked away.
The sun is up, now, and the birds are madly chirping. It’s the start of a new day, and I step into it with a grateful heart. I’d like to think I know what the day will bring – I certainly have my own version of how I’d like it to be – but I’m letting go, simply along for the ride.
And maybe the Universe is sending me a message, because I went to publish this post on blogger, and the post I wrote yesterday is gone. I didn’t delete it (although I came close to deleting it many times yesterday); it’s just not there anymore. I’m sure it’s a Blogger glitch, and perhaps it will magically reappear when Blogger is up and running again (I’m typing this on Word, because I can’t access Blogger, but here’s me letting that go).
Either way: message received, Universe.