Doing the Best I Know How
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Yesterday I flopped down into my therapist’s chair, proceeded to tell her about the 45 minute long presentation on self awareness and self care I gave over the weekend to a group of survivors, then told her how exhausted I was. She asked if I was overwhelmed and I told her no – just tired and in need of some self care. In her usual smart ass way, she replied, “I know someone you can talk to. She just gave a 45 minute long presentation on it.” (Thanks dude!) She’s right though. We spend so much time trying to take care of others and giving so much of ourselves that we are often the last on our list. This was my wake up call.
Last night I meditated for the first time in days, and it felt so good. I listened to inspiring podcasts this morning. I practiced a grounding yoga class with one of my favorite instructors. Now I am finally doing some writing for the first time in weeks. These are all cathartic releases for me that make me whole, satisfied and peaceful.
I also spoke to my therapist about my own anger and how frustrated I am with it. I told her I’m tired of being angry. Angry at myself, angry at my traumas and the way I dealt with them for so long, angry at the world for the injustices. She told me that this is my way of running away, of retreating. I never thought of it that way. Just like in the self care presentation I gave, where I spoke about the reason that we avoid empathy is so that we don’t have to feel someone else’s pain, the reason why I’m feeling angry and retreating is so that I don’t have to feel the pain instead. It’s an easier emotion to sit with, but it’s certainly not healthy to hold onto long-term.
I also told my therapist that I felt much more at peace after a conversation about self forgiveness I had with a sober friend (see prior blog post). I chalked the inner peace up to also just having meditated for an hour and 45 minutes. This is where my therapist stopped me and said, “You need to give yourself more credit for doing the work.” Yes, I am still learning every day to forgive myself. It’s not an easy task and certainly not for the faint of heart. It requires my own acceptance and vulnerability with myself. It requires me to continue that practice I wrote about in here last time with being my own best friend. Demi Lovato’s new single, “I Love Me” has been my theme song lately. In it, she says, “I’m a black belt when I’m beating up on myself, but I’m an expert at giving love to somebody else.” How true is this for so many of us?
Something that is extremely painful for me to talk about is my childhood. Having reiki performed a couple of weeks ago by my friend Tia showed me just how much I had disassociated my childhood from present-day Celeste. Tia immediately picked up on this and helped me reconnect with my younger self. It was an emotional process, realizing that part of me had been left in my grandparents’ kitchen for over 30 years, just standing there making myself breakfast and feeling alone. The scars that we develop as children before we are even able to speak is unbelievable. It made me really feel for my own children.
See, I thought I was in the clear with my children because I began taking better care of my mental health when they were ages 3 and 5, becoming sober shortly thereafter. I thought surely my own way of sweeping my mental health under the rug and trying to shut myself off would not affect them since they were/are so young. Having reiki performed on me taking me back to my 5 year old self changed this perspective. It made me realize just how important my presence and my mental health is in their lives – the entirety of their lives.
I told my therapist that I have been able to forgive my father, for I have realized that he merely did the best that he could at the time. He raised me the way he was raised and the way that his emotions allowed him to do. When my therapist told me that I too did the best that I could at the time with my own children, I responded by saying that I let my emotions take over sometimes so I am angry at myself for that. She then repeated, “You did the best you knew how at the time.”
Isn’t that all we can do as humans – the best we possibly know how to do at that point in our lives? When we know better, we do better. It doesn’t mean we need to dwell on the past and constantly beat ourselves up. That doesn’t get us anywhere. What takes us places is doing the hard work – digging deep and figuring out how to change. Now that I know how to process my anger and how to utilize the breathing exercises I learned from yoga and meditation, I am in a much better place.
Every day, I just do the best that I can. If we can all do that, it will be enough.
This pic was taken by a friend in Starbucks almost a month ago. What a great way to make someone's day!