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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Running no longer

Transformational.  A cheesy word, but the only one that comes to mind appropriate enough to describe the past couple of years.
One of the challenges with being a single and independent female is that we know we cannot rely on anyone.  We fiercely defend our independence.  We hide our emotions.  At least that was what it was like for me.  I ferociously protected myself to assure that the life I fought hard to build would not crumble around me.
My lifestyle was fast.  Not in the "wall street" sense, but more in that I had no idle time.  Work, gym, friends.  My refrigerator contained a yogurt or two if I was lucky, my desk drawer a bag of nuts or something – eating simply did not fit into my routine.
I felt restless all the time.  Even in my sleep.  The couple of relationships I dallied in soon left me feeling bored and caged. 
But I was happy.  My life was full.  Friends a plenty.  A magnificent family.  A son who touched my life daily.  There however, was always that restless feeling.
On a trip to Zurich a few years ago my ever-wise son sat me down and told me it was time to slow down a bit.  Maybe try to get eight hours of sleep a night.  I listened and did give it a good try. 
The next thing that happened was I ended up in an executive assessment.  Ten hours of brutal testing.  Some parts I did well in, but one part I was weak.  At least per the panel assessing me.  They said I was "too cold". 
"Do you know how to have fun and relax?" they asked.  "Our panel cannot emotionally connect with you.  You are calm and controlled, but we want to also connect with you."  The all-male panel later shared that this was often a problem with career driven females.   
I mentioned this response to some of the friends I spent time with; "ridiculous" was their reply. I also shared the feedback with the man I was dating.  "Yes, I can see what they meant." 
Before I go on, I want to say that I don’t care much for status quo.  The need to please people is not something for which I strive.  But I do want to be the best version of myself; therefore, when I added up these things, I knew there much be something I could possibly do better.
After some time, I realized that I was so busy proving to no one in particular, that I was fine.  That I needed no one, that I could do it all.  I was ready to battle in a moment's notice.  This resulted in relationships filled with power struggles and me making sure he understood I didn’t need him.  No matter where I was, I took on more than everyone.   People complained about stress – not me.  Bring.  It.  On.  I was happy though.  Up for pretty much anything, and this made me popular amongst my friends.
I decided to start investing my energy in different way.  My guy got me into cooking.  Regular sleep routines.  Netflix series.  Mountain biking and mountain hikes.  I tried to let my guard down with people; sometimes successfully, often not.  I started to eat better.  My refrigerator is usually full.  I can even cry on occasion now, something that was for years completely allusive.  I no longer feel restless.  Finally.
These two years have been a challenge for me.  Modifying a long-standing behavior pattern is not easy.   But what I have learned in this process, was that the façade of absolute control and independence is a fragile one.  It takes constant awareness and an exhausting investment of energy.  It also leaves one feeling restless and searching for something to satisfy. 

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