11 Feb I looked my demons in the eyes, laid bare my chest, said “Do your best, destroy me”*
I have never before selected a ‘word for the year’.
A word to orient my year around.
But then a few weeks ago, I absent-mindedly scrolling through Instagram when a word chose me.
I was not expecting it. I didn’t go looking for it. This is my word:
And I believe learning to RESIST will be a big part of my year.
I started January with gusto, and for one week after the kids went back to school I was proactive and purposeful.
But then as quickly as my new-start-enthusiasm arrived, the bleakness of the month overtook me. It didn’t even have the decency to announce itself, or creep up slowly. It floored me.
My husband was away for a week and when he returned I fell ill with flu. And the flu lingered and before I knew it, I was battling despair and discouragement.
And as it has become apparent to me I have not been doing great, I have also become aware of a hateful voice speaking insults and lies over me.
And the worst thing – this voice is inside my head. The voice is me.
I’m minding my business getting on with my work when suddenly I become aware the script in my head is one about how ugly I am, or how overweight. The voice has started telling me my work isn’t really important and no one would care if I just stopped writing. It whispers that I will never be able to write the book I have been battling with.
This voice has been telling me hopelessness is the appropriate response because my dreams aren’t going to come to anything anyway. I might as well give up.
In conversations I find myself looking for reassurance. And then, fuelled with new ammunition the voice tells me I am needy and self-pitying and my friends are getting tired of me.
It has been hard hearing these words. It has compounded my low mood and dug me further into my pit of self-disgust.
But then I take a step back and I remember the word that chose me.
And little by little I begin to push back against the tide of loneliness and sadness. Against the strong current of exhaustion and apathy and fear.
But please don’t be mistaken, this resistance doesn’t look like pulling myself together and just-getting-on-with-it,
it looks like kindness.
This resistance looks like being careful with my energy and resources. It takes the shape of rest and offering myself some comfort.
Occasionally I slip back into my old way of thinking and believe to combat the despair and negative talk I need to stay on my feet and shout and use all my remaining energy. But then I remember exhaustion isn’t going to help me recover, and I make myself another cup of tea.
Resistance looks like pausing when I find myself revisiting the childhood script that describes me as lazy and clumsy and remembering this is not the truth.
Resistance is not a reminder to double my effort and try harder. Resistance is letting myself off the hook and finding words, in books and poems and paintings and text messages, that remind me I am beautiful and that my contribution is important.
It looks like a friend texting to remind me to be gentle with myself.
I am learning resistance has to be gentle, tender and full of grace.
I will resist.
And gradually I will move from despair to hope.
Like I did last weekend.
I had dressed up for a wedding we were attending and my husband told me I looked beautiful and just for a moment I believed him and responded, ‘Yes, I do don’t I’.
And when I received two messages of encouragement about my work and I was able to read them and hear the words being spoken, that I was helping and that my work was making a difference, and I allowed the words to settle on my soul.
Just as the negative words can snowball so quickly, so can the the positive affirmation of the truth.
I tell myself I am enough. I remind myself I am good.
I rehearse the truth that I knew but had forgotten for a time.
Maybe you could share my word with me and together we can learn to resist the negative chatter and disparaging words we speak over ourselves?
If you aren’t sure how to do this you could start here:
I am enough, as I am, here and now, in the moment.
I am beautiful and worth love and belonging.
I have a contribution to bring and it matters.
Let’s resist together
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Title: lyrics from Empty by Ray Lamontagne (Till The Sun Turns Back 2006).