I told my loved ones yesterday was a “go kick rocks” day. I wrote about needing to rest and reflect. I did that. Then, as I put my head on the pillow, I realized: No. I need to throw the rocks.
I have allowed myself to carry rocks for others. Many others. (And no, I am not talking about my previous clients. That work is carefully wrapped in loving kindness and another topic entirely.)
I am talking about people, over the course of my life, who have put their stories onto me, so that they can move on unburdened and lighter. I’m not unique, many of you are carrying the weight of others.
I’m also not a sap, a sucker, or a martyr. I’m not passive aggressive. I’m not “trying to prove something.” I’m not a bitch, a liar, bat-shit crazy, or any of the other things people have called me over the past 40 years.
Yeah, I’ve been called all of these things. Let’s be honest: Most women have, and worse. Especially when we do not make ourselves complicit in the roles others have cast for us. Especially when we have shown up full self, full struggle. So, if I am none of these things, then what am I?
For starters, I am human, mortal, and soft hearted. I am kind–to a fault, and yet really blunt. I am gracious. I am strong. I know what I like, what I don’t like, and what I want. I am imperfect, and yet I strive for the illusion that is perfection.
Yes, Perfection. A curse word; a badge of shame in today’s culture, and yet I must embrace her. She too, is a bitch, and yet I am shackled to her by my relentless pursuit of excellence. This, my friends, is my labor of love, my diligent work, and my nemesis, in one tidy package.
I came by it honestly, via the temperament I was born with, the people who raised me, and all the teachers, friends, community members, and my military family, who showed up before me, bearing excellence at the forefront. Was every lesson brilliant, or even smooth? No. But everyone showed up with their best effort and told me I could do even better.
I believed it, and further, I came to expect it from everyone. I believe that every person is capable of manifesting his or her own brand of excellence. I believe it is unbelievably hard, and therefore, some people get lost along the way–I know I do. And some people throw the invitation into the junk mail.
Perfectionism is not a flaw, it is a shield. It protects us. I honor it, and yet I do not need it. The more I unshackle, and the more I fill into myself without the film of perfection, the better I feel. At the same time, I am sad to say I have never been treated more harshly by my fellow man. This is what it feels like to drop one’s shield.
So here, now, with all these excellent flaws, and filled with the weight of all these stones, I am setting down my shield and picking up new arms. Joy. Humor. Levity. Laughter. Love. And boundaries, though they piss people off mightily.
Today, I turned to my children, ages four and nine, “Hey guys, are you carrying stones? I have some stones and I need to throw them off today.”
Cole, age 4: “What, like rocks?”
Me, age 40: “No, like bad feelings that make you feel heavy? From other people.”
Riley, age 9: “Yes, I do.” And then her face became very grave as she shared her stories.
Cole: “Yes, I do too.” And then his voice became very somber as he shared his stories.
Riley: “Mom, do your stones have to do with (insert lousy circumstance here)?”
Me: “Yep. And other things too. Guys, do you want to go throw some stones today?”
Both kids: “Like, for real? Throw rocks?”
Both kids: “YES!”
And so, today, we are going to go throw stones. And no, we are not going to be mean. And no, we are not going to cast blame. And no, we are not going to feed the darkness. We are simply going to take those heavy bits, and wrap them in love, and give them right back to the world outside of us, with a forceful chuck.