Taking off My Sweaters
I took off my clothes in a phone conversation with my coach last week. Sweaters, to be exact. Some of the spiritual sweaters I have been wearing were just so confining, I was bursting out of them, while at the same time, continuing to add more. Sweating, holding on, reaching the point of explosion, meltdown.
In vulnerability, I will share that I reached a breaking point last Wednesday. I was plugging away at life, yet slowly sinking into an abyss of exhaustion, frustration, I’ve had enough ness. There was an edginess about me, a crankiness with an attempt to appear, look, be “put together and strong” on the outside. I can handle this. I handle everything because “It’s All About Attitude” is my mantra. In fact, I wrote that book. And the one called Breathe. So I always know what to do and how to be. And I am a life coach. Surely I have my shit sorted out.
But here’s the thing….SOMETIMES I DON’T.
Lack of sleep breaks down our filters. For me, it left me in a puddle on the floor of realness… like a drunk who let’s it all hang out. I showed up for a mentoring/coaching conversation and I was the only one in the class. Yeah, I get personalized support, 1 on 1 with an amazing coach. Yes, I can get help with this and this and this on my journey of being a more powerful coach.
And within 3 words, my coach knew I was not ok. Not ok ness was building for awhile. I’ve had a lot of extra time with my son (love him from the depths of my soul but unbelievably high maintenance and challenging … autism plus lots of other things that really suck sometimes). I had a lot of time with him because I still had not found a daytime program for him. I was also short staffed in home support. Things had changed rather abruptly a few weeks ago and I still did not have it figured out. Where was he going to go? Doors were closing all over the place. Fear was showing up. I was being tortured by what if’s. I had a few nights of poor sleep, some because of him and some just me and my thoughts.
But still, I was not going to admit to myself that I was falling apart on the inside. It’s a choice and I choose well being, happiness. I’m spiritual, enlightened, self aware. My thoughts are the culprit and I am certainly not going to ride the train with the thoughts that don’t serve me. The victim thoughts. The not so pretty thoughts. The messy gnarly ones. Better put on a sweater so I can cover ME up.
When I showed up with my coach, I did not have the energy to hide. There was a small trickle, followed by a steady flow. Tears, awareness that I was not taking care of me, not asking for extra help and support. My body was carrying the weight of my decisions (hello neck pain). I was a mess inside. And I was wearing layers of sweaters to cover it up.
Stacy, my coach, asked if I could be that mess 100%! What??!? Sometimes there is a love hate relationship with powerful coaching questions. What would that do to my image of myself? Reluctantly, I unbuttoned another sweater. The shoulds and the judgments about who I should be and how I should show up were rearing their heads. Could I take that sweater off completely?
Stacy told me it was hard to be angry at myself all the time for being human. The sweater came off.
What if I replace the belief “to be really spiritual, I need to rise above that” with “to be really spiritual, I need to express it”, however “IT” shows up? Vulnerability. Exposing myself to myself and others. A heavy sweater dropped to the ground.
So I had a little breakdown that day. It was a powerful cleansing. I thought about running away from home for a few hours. But I found myself napping and weeping in the chaise in my room instead. Just being. As I was. My thoughts, just pure emotions. Me being with me. When the flood ceased, I went out to talk with Tammy, Kyle’s caregiver, and sure enough, the floodgates opened again. Another sweater, dangling, fell to the floor. I found myself almost apologizing for my tears, but didn’t say the words. There I was in a puddle again. And it was ok.
I walked part way up the mountain behind my house. With no destination in mind, I parked on a rock. New floodgates. Gentler, loving, compassionate. More being me with me. It wasn’t even about anything in particular at this point, but was just a release of built up, held in stuff. It needed to come out. A sweater slipped on to the desert floor.
My husband came home with a bouquet of roses behind his back. In all the purging, I had forgotten the anniversary of our first date. And I had forgotten, momentarily, about love. Now I was wearing a tank top without a sweater and the love flowed in.
I couldn’t sleep that night. An insight woke me up. The daytime program I was searching for was right under my nose. While taking off the sweaters, I removed my dark glasses as well. My son Kyle, would join his uncle in a day program I had previously rejected. I already knew the manager. It felt so right. I couldn’t see this before but it became crystal clear when I was sleeping. I created an opening and the answer I was working so hard to find, slipped in with grace and ease. I was not wearing any sweaters.
I appreciate my coach Stacy for saying what I needed to hear and giving me permission to show up 100% in my messy place.
It’s too hot in Phoenix to walk around all bundled up in sweaters. So grateful to finally see that.
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
~~Neil Gaiman, University of the Arts Commencement Speech