Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 30

If you think about it, all of life is about perceptions and often, the perception we have of ourselves is not the same one shared by others. It's also possible that the many different people that we know and meet in life have completely different perceptions of us based on their own circumstance, age, life or even opinion of themselves. So, it could be that it is all together possible to change our own perception of ourselves by changing ourselves, our lives and starting from the inside out.

When we built our home, we moved in with it only partially finished with the intention of finishing it ourselves. A fellow that I worked with at the time told me that it would never be done. I promised him a steak dinner as soon as we finished the house and he joked that he'd start sharpening his steak knife. Years later and right before I left that business to work on my own, he said to me that he had already worn out two steak knives and was working on his third. The house still wasn't finished, at least not to my satisfaction, and where in the early years of our marriage, we'd had guest over ever weekend and often through the work week, we now rarely invited anyone and often cringed when they arrived unannounced or invited themselves as a several friends from Chicago did.  For years, we were jokingly referred to as "the half way house" because we were half way between the colder Northern states and our friends' vacation destinations South of us in Florida and the Gulf states. That first visit however sent me into a panic. I rushed around for a week trying to make my place presentable and guest ready. The first morning after they arrived, I was standing at my kitchen sink looking out the window at the woods that started not twenty feet from my backdoor and noticing how over grown all of the undergrowth was and brush and vines that had taken over the bare part of the hillside leading to the woods. I was embarrassed to the point of mortification thinking how horrible this must look to my city friend when she walked up behind me and said, "How lucky you are to wake up to that view every morning. It's beautiful." What had appeared ugly, overgrown and neglected to me was beautiful to her.

Several years later, my father passed away after a lengthy illness. I'd been the one who stayed with him and cared for him during the nights. Even after he died, I still was unable to sleep at night. I had terrible insomnia for months and then suddenly developed what seemed strange phobias. My doctor suggested that I see a therapist to work through the issues that were at the root of my problem. I'd been seeing her for several weeks when I had an appointment right after a weekend when we'd had a wonderful time biking in the mountains. The therapists asked me about the weekend and in describing our days of mountain biking to the top of a mountain for hours and then the exciting descent (always the best part) which never took over a few minutes, I happened to mention a couple that we'd passed on the trail. I described them as "beautiful people." She asked me what I meant by that. I said, "You know, people who are perfect, whose life you just know is perfect, who have everything going for them, and are the envy of everyone who sees them." She started to laugh and I, a bit offended, asked what was so funny and then it struck me. "You aren't saying that I'm one of those people are you," I asked in total astonishment. "You'd be surprised," she answered, "just how many people think of you in that way." In my wildest dreams, I never imagined myself as having a perfect life much less being perfect myself. In fact, in my entire life, I always saw myself as being "less than" everyone else. To even consider that someone might envy me is just astounding. My entire life, people have seemed drawn to me and that also surprises me. I wonder, what do they see in me that I don't see in myself. I certainly haven't ever seen myself as lovable or pretty or even passably cute most days.

Over the past few years, I've shut myself away. I've just felt inadequate when I'm out in public as if I stand out like the proverbial sore thumb because I see myself as so fat, so unattractive and so old. I see myself as being down right repulsive and I always perceive that as how others see me, too but still, people seek out my friendship, my companionship, my council. Maybe they see something I don't? I keep thinking, if I could just lose enough weight, I'll start living my life again. If I could just finally finish this house, I'll start having people over for parties and cookouts again. If I can just get in shape, I'll start riding my horses again and take up kayaking or some other challenging sport. If I can just, get my office pulled together, I'll start creating again and utilizing all of those ideas I've put aside until.........If I can is holding me back. One day is holding me back. I'm too this and I'm too that is holding me back. The image of me I see in my mind's eye is holding me back. I'm fifty-five years old and I've waited too long to live the life I imagine. I can't afford to wait another day to start living. It's like the way I've used every excuse in the world to say I'm going to start this diet and exercise program tomorrow and then tomorrow comes with its own excuses to put off the rest of my life. I'm going to try for a while to see myself through the less critical eyes of my friends and loved ones. My friend Huston said to me a few weeks ago, "I don't care what size you are or how much you weigh, you'll always be just fine in my book." That touched me so that I nearly cried and I realized that until I start loving and accepting myself with that same unconditional love, I will never lose the weight, get in shape, finish my house, start riding again, start creating again, start living again. I've decided that I'm going to be Lazerus; I'm rising from the dead. You can just lay down and die or you can decide to love yourself enough to live. I'm choosing to live and also to love myself more. I am "as much" as everyone else and I'm beginning to think I'm a pretty super person.....if I do say so myself;-)!

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