Tuesday, 18 October 2011
How Sunshine and Movement Bring Me Back to Myself
I’m not sure when it started yesterday morning. Maybe it was because it was the eleventy-fifth day in a row that started with whining (theirs, not mine) as soon as I saw my kids’ faces, still puffy with sleep. Maybe it was sleep deprivation (mine, not theirs), and maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
Whatever the reason, after my morning writing time was over I felt like I was on a rampage.
Every thought was bitter. Every word was mean. Instead of choosing neutral, I nearly always added a sprinkling of blame or shame to my interactions with the kids. I even got mad at the baby for not coming over to get his shoes on. You know you’ve lost it when you start raising your voice with a one-year-old, and then it’s confirmed when you feel like you’ll boil over after he gives you his biggest, most mischievous grin. Mama’s not smiling, Benjamin. (Yeah, no kidding.)
Mostly for my kids’ sake, I’m glad they had school/time with Grandma yesterday morning, so they’d be protected from me for awhile.
Medicine: Sunshine and Movement
After I got back home, I knew I needed — my very soul begged me — to mow the lawn.
I took out a little aggression on the lawn mower after it wouldn’t start right away, but soon started breathing more evenly to the steady rhythm of its motor. The work is both quiet and blaringly loud — so loud it drowns out everything else but my thoughts.
I didn’t waste time feeling guilty about the morning. It was done, I was wrong, end of story. Instead, I breathed in the earthy smells of torn grass and gasoline, I felt the sun’s warmth and cloud’s coolness as they played hide-and-seek in the sky. I moved my legs, step, step, step, as I muscled the mower around. I felt my mind clearing, my heart letting go of the morning’s bad mood.
It was meditation in motion. And I need meditation, it turns out. The sun and exercise help me get there faster.
About halfway through the task, just as I was mowing the edge under the big cedar tree out back, I realized my sense of self is so intertwined with shame that I don’t allow myself to be vulnerable very much, not in real life, because I don’t feel worthy of love. I went back and mowed a strip of grass I missed and my heart sank with the thought that even when I have real, deep love in my life (and I do!), I don’t believe it. Not really. As I made more neat rows across the back yard, I thought about how that affects every relationship I have. And I knew why I revert to shame and blame when my mood gets away from me: It comes naturally because I both shame myself constantly, and fear being shamed by others. That which I most fear, I use to attack others. To attack my own children.
And all I’d wanted to do was mow the lawn.
For me, connecting with the earth, the sun, the dirt, and moving this vessel God gave me in a way He intended (as in, I have muscles, I’m supposed to use them), clears my mind, humbles me and brings me back to myself — even when that self is ugly and imperfect and full of brokenness.
So how do I feel worthy, and how do I get more vulnerable, and how do I stop my base impulse of shaming? I don’t know. I have an inkling it has to do with Jesus and meditating on what He says about me. That if I hear it enough times, maybe I’ll start believing. But realizing the condition of my heart is the first step on that journey, so I finished the mowing with tired arms and a grateful heart. Grateful that God is so in love with me that he wants me to break out of the prison of my own making.
How do you connect with your self? Is shame a big part of your life, too, or can you let it go more easily?