So much of what life is is other people. You know- those pesky expectations, the opinions. The things that upset them. The things they want, need, right now or next week that hairball up your own life.
We went camping this weekend. We had lots of laughs, some tense moments, some relaxing listening to the wind blow. Again and again I was reminded that my life does not need to be led by the leashes of other people. This sounds sort of cold and a little bitchy, but take that sound out of it and think of it as me taking off the collars and walking around free. Like putting myself first in the self full way and not the self fish one.
I started re-reading Eat, Pray, Love again after a lovely conversation with a dear friend last week. On the first night of our trip I came across this:
“All I had to do was ask myself every day, for the first time in my life, ‘What would you enjoy doing today, Liz? What would bring you pleasure right now?’ With nobody else’s agenda to consider and no other obligations to worry about, this question finally became distilled and absolutely self-specific.”
After I read it I squinched further into my sleeping bag and closed my eyes in happiness. I was doing just exactly what I wanted. I was in a cozy sleeping bag surrounded by my mostly sleeping people reading a goodbook with my headlamp. I felt my self get fuller, fatter- heart swollen with love and contentment.
Then I realized that I hardly ever please me. That I dedicate hours and days to making life easy for the people in my life, but I don’t make my life a pleasure. This makes me feel like a control freak and ridiculous all at once. And also like I have way way missed the boat on this one. Living a life of imagined duty rather than one of willing restraints and freedoms. WTF am I thinking?
And so…..I decided things based on what I wanted. Want to go on a hike? Old answer: Oh, sure, if you want to. New answer: No. I want to lay on a blanket and listen to the wind. Want me to make you a cup of tea? Old answer: No, I’ll get it. New answer: Yes, that would be so lovely of you honey. Mom? Can we watch another show? Old answer: No! That’s enough. New answer: Yes, I have some more writing to do, so go ahead.
Does it seem like I make all my decisions based on what other people might think is a good or better idea, but then my self is kind of sad and chin in hand hrumph’ing at the whole thing? I don’t have to wait for your answer anymore since I can speak up for myself: Y.E.S. It sure as hell does.
Now, if you have already mastered this then I applaud you. I am having my very own one woman revolution over here about this- you mean I can pick? What I want? And people will still love me?
I also cannot fail to mention that it is me myself that has gotten me myself in this spot in the first place. No one has huffed, puffed, or blown the house down over much of any of my decisions. I have pretty much always been a woman in control of my destiny. (Even when it was a wreck of a destiny) Strong willed but overly agreeable.
All of this self full-ness comes from the biggest decision I have ever made: the one I made 16 months ago today. I decided that even if I wanted to, or a party wanted me to, or my husband wanted me to, or America or Tuesday or spring and summer wanted me to I wasn’t ever going to drink again. Ever. It took a while, but now I think I’m ready to be graciously selfish. I’m ready for other decisions that make my life a pleasure to inhabit. I’m ready to be me first. With love and gratitude and fullness, but me first. Because when my life is comfortable and easeful and sure then I can give that to the people in it. Giving without giving in.