Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sometimes you win just by showing up

In my last post, I bemoaned the learned helplessness that can come with being the child of a hoarder (or an alcoholic, or any dysfunctional parent). Through a thousand small interactions, you learn that nothing you do will make a lasting difference. I suspect that this tendency to hunker down and take cover amongst the piles of crap (and rage and dysfunction) served me in childhood. It may not have served me well, necessarily, but it definitely helped minimize the amount of flack that I got. I learned not to make waves, which protected me from a lot of the emotional hurricanes coming from my mother.

The problem is that, as an adult, sometimes you need to make waves to live a fulfilling life. No one wants to live hunkered down in a corner. Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself, or challenge someone else, or set healthy boundaries, or just simply show up so that you can create your own best life. This showing up, every day takes guts. Sometimes it's incredibly difficult just to show up and make today the best day that it can be. It requires making dozens of choices not to coast through, not to go through the day on auto-pilot and simply react to what happens to you. It takes guts to be an agent of change in your own life.

Regardless of what is going on around me, regardless of what others around me are doing, I'm learning more and more that I can win the battle just by showing up. Even when it's a struggle, it means that I'm present in this moment and that I remain centered within myself. It means that I grant myself the power to act, not react. I have the ability to choose what I want and need to make my life a happy one. For someone who grew up in a family that implicitly discouraged action, this realization is life-changing indeed.


  1. Yay! Easier said than done sometimes, but these are great goals.

    It's the inaction that drives me bonkers. Not that I don't mind some couch time or sleeping in from time to time, but choice to NOTHING EVER, and then blame the lack of results on others is crazy-making.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I go back and forth with my mother all the time about this. She doesn't understand why I sometimes "make waves" when something bothers me. She doesn't believe in fighting back or standing up for yourself, despite the fact that she says differently. If someone sayd or does something to me (even as a child) she wouldn't deal with it or defend me because "she" would be "over it." As a child, my teacher sexually molested some of the boys in my classroom in front of my class and rather than deal with it my mother left me in there until the end of the year. I had to deal with it alone because she didn't want to make anyone upset by pulling me out or "causing a fuss." (She was also a teacher at the school.) I know this plays into her hoarding.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this. I needed to read it today.

  3. This is inspired and inspiring.... especially your last paragraph, very well said. The light of your being shines brightly through your words. Namaste