Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it hits you with a ton of bricks, or a constant tree-blowing-in-a-hurricane-smack. Sometimes it’s yucky, complicated, intense, fall-into-a-vat-of-molasses-not-good. Sometimes it pushes us to our edge and then lets us fall down the cliff.
And then we have to move through. It doesn’t matter the content of the gunk, it could be anything from your dog died to your best friend’s girlfriend cheated on her to you got bad results back from the doctor. Regardless of the content, we are the ones that give meaning to them. They either change us and propel us forward, or they break us. Both are valid responses. And yet, we have to keep going and trudging through the gunk to get to the green grass. It’s in the gunk that we find what we are truly capable. It’s where we find our inner PowerGirl putting on her mud boots, rain jacket, and stuffing her pockets with snacks for the journey. It’s where we find ourselves. It’s where we learn to stay with the discomfort.
Learning to ‘stay’ is not a skill I excel at. I haven’t lived in the same place for more than 18 months since I was 13. Why? I freak myself out. Things get hard and I freak. I book a plane ticket somewhere and peace out. I run because I haven’t figured out how to stay with the not-so-fun feelings. And yet, wherever I go, I find myself there again. All the things I ran from end up following me– just taking a different shape. You would think that after thousands of frequent flyer miles I would have figured this out. I would have figured out that the person I’m running from is there in the whole journey.
And so, with that, I’m clearly not the one to take advice from in the area of ‘learning to stay.’ However, I do get the gunk and the yuckiness and the trudging through. I get that.
The answer of learning how to ‘stay,’ leaning into the discomfort, and trusting that tomorrow is going to be better than today is not a straight forward one. There are no easy answers. As much as I wish I could say, “Hey, take this pill, eat this thing, say this, and do this and you’ll be cured” I’m glad that I can’t. Looking back on the crap that I’ve been through in the past is what often what encourages me to move forward. It’s where I find a tiny spark of mojo, and grit.
In addition to looking back in order to look forward, I look to my people: my middle-of-the-night-know-my-darkest-fears-and-still-love-me-people. I say “Hey, I don’t know. This is hard. Can you help me? Will you encourage me to be the best me and go through the gunk?” I have yet to be met with a “no.” In fact, quite the contrary, the response is usually, “YES. I’ll stand with you. Let’s brainstorm how to ‘stay’ and own the feelings.” My people often remind me to go back to my core, to fall into the things that make me and make my heart happy. They tell me to go to yoga, to go paint in the studio, to go drink a second cup of coffee, to listen to new music, and to watch re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy.
It’s all a process. It’s a one-step-at-a-time-one-breath-at-a-time-moving-through kind of process. It’s a knowing that things will get better, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but they will get better. It’s about trusting in the process and that the universe is conspiring for your good. It’s a steadfast will for pushing for more. And in the end there will be more sunshine, more laughing, more joy, and more dance parties.
And so my dear PowerGirl, lean into the discomfort, lean in. Say “YES” to the gunk.