And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been.
TS Eliot, Four Quartets
The last few years I've been paying some sort of attention to resolutions people share. People create good ones. Goals can act as a sort of compass for how we are going to steer the ship of our lives.
From my small group of awesome people, goals almost always come from the heart; they are often shared, for social accountability, and written down, for personal accountability. As psychologist Melody Beattie says,
"Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction."
Some common ones I've heard are:
"Lose ten pounds."
"Go to spin class three times a week."
"Cut out carbs."
"Finally finish project _____ that we started last March."
Last year mine were similar. I wrote a list of 10 goals, and taped them to my bathroom mirror.
"Finally get a two pack and see my abs."
"Stay between 16-18% body fat."
"Be able to do a full unassisted pull-up."
"Do a mini triathalon."
The folly of the new year. The bright eyed wonder of intentions. Of my list above (I'm too embarassed to share all 10), I have only achieved the second. I ended the year five pounds down - go figure: the one goal not written down - and at 19.5% body fat. I do smile more, but continue to chase the elusive two pack (forget about a six pack) or movitation to achieve a pull up. I took one huge step closer to my Tri goal by conquering my fear of swimming, so I take that one as a success.
Resolutions come, resolutions go. I've all but abandoned ridiculously specific or overly lofty ones this year and have condensend them down to a smaller, yet infinitely more complex list.
1. Find more patience with my kids.
2. Continue to become less co-dependent.
3. Write every single day.
2014 kicked my butt, blessed my heart, taught me lessons, helped me appreciate the value of Home. I came into December on fumes. We traveled an insane amount from May straight through the first week of December. I found myself burnt out, a little grinch-like, with a million things on my mind and not enough time to do them all.
My suitcase from Disneyland in mid-November stayed haphazardly unpacked until the day before I repacked it for Vegas, three weeks later. For every fun trip we planned, I found myself fantasizing about staying home, with no plans, no obligations, no hassles.
I have little patience for the normal bickering of three elementary school kids just under 4 years apart. I let myself get derailed too easily - I give myself time outs more often than usual, to recenter and regroup. I am resolutely committed to giving the kids more slack, allowing the normal bickers and noise to roll off me.
During this time of end-of-year malaise, I rediscovered and unpacked a goal. I found inspiration to write. Writing centers me, leaving me feeling accomplished, expressed, and energized. More importantly, though, I began establishing a new pattern of belief and action.
The pattern of becoming less co-dependent.
Last year my therapist gave me a book on Codependency, Copendent No More, by Melody Beattie. I had heard this term before, but almost always in reference to living with an alcoholic or someone with a substance abuse issue. I thought no way is that me - and therefore never gave it much attention.
Turns out, I have been a classic Co-Dependent my whole life. As a loyal, compassionate people-pleaser, I became adept, at a very young age, at taking on the emotions of those around me. Of feeling responsible to listen to and fix the problems of people I love. Of reading into criticism or reactions and taking them over, as something I did to the other person. Of suppressing any negative feeling like anger, and turning them instead (subconsciously of course) into passive aggressive "rolling with the punches."
It created havoc within myself. I lost some valuable self-esteem. It created a failure complex. It paralyzed me, in many ways, to handle criticism in a healthy way and allow others to express their frustration at me.
I needed to learn how to not take everything on or become a sponge to other emotions. To realize that hey - it's okay to disappoint people. It's part of life to screw up. What makes me so special that I can't allow myself to mess up?
On my last therapy session of the year, a funny thing happened. I started to speak about the stress of the season - kids, work, relationship navigation, my never-ending list - as a non-Codependent person. As a calm, rational person who knows herself and is learning how to actively re-set the pattern of codependency. I can't control reactions or occurrences outside of myself, but I can control my own actions and emotions.
My therapist couldn't stop smiling. She almost clapped. She paused and stopped me, mid-sentence, and asked me to notice how I was speaking.
"Do you hear yourself? You are doing it. You are making a new pattern. You are doing it!"
And for once, I believed her. Usually I brush that sort of enthusiasm and praise away, but this time I agreed . I felt the change resolutely coming from a place deep inside of me. Instead of understanding it on a superficial or intellectual level, I was starting to live it.
And guess what? I feel f-ing amazing. Calmer, more confident, more complete. I never imagined that resetting a pattern 40 years in the making could be so overwhelming, yet easy, once I started to apply it. Once I set up an intention, and really take the steps towards achieving it.
I like my three goals. They feel do-able, authentic, and real. Maybe once I calm down the chatter, the other silly, more specific goals will naturally occur. Maybe I will do ten pullups on my own in a few months, simply by not writing that goal down. Who knows?
I am resolutely determined to welcome this new year with a more patient, expansive, and creative heart. I will write more, will follow that driving force that has followed me my whole life. I will love my children better by being more patient. And I will do everyone else in my life a favor (especially my ever-patient husband) by calming down and shedding the mantle of co-dependency.
If not today, then next month. Or mid-summer. Or even, damn it, into next December. That's the beauty of a yearly resolution. Sometimes it takes the whole year.
Happy 2015, you goal-makers, risk-takers, and hopeful go-getters. Greet every day as a new opportunity to become more amazing. And if you're not amazing that day, there's always the next. And the next...