Calling It What It Is
Several years ago my husband and I were living in Virginia. I had just taken a new full-time position at a medical center in Vermont to begin within a month, prompting a big move for us. At the time, my husband was spending 12-14 hours a day in his research lab trying to finish up his dissertation. So I was left packing up the contents of our life (which was spread across the east coast) as efficiently as possible, finding us a new perfect place to live, looking for the most loving home for our goldfish, stressing about our new life and being thrifty until we arrived there. With all the uncertainty about this next chapter and the anxiety that came with it, I fell victim to my perfectionist/problem-solver mindset. Unsurprisingly, this invited a week-long sinus infection.
At the end of that week, we were sitting outside of our apartment planning our meal menu for the upcoming week. It had grown increasingly important to me to stay true to our our whole food, home cooked diet, especially since I had just recently completed my yoga teacher training [read: “I had to be the perfect yogi”]. What happened then I remember clear as day: I looked at my husband and saw his weary, dim eyes and furrowed brow as we decided on another complex set of meals. Then... I really saw him. His shoulders slumped, rubbing the back of his neck were tension had moved in and taken up residence. And then….
I acknowledged what was actually happening. We were not doing ok. We needed to go into survival mode. I called it what it was.
We acknowledged our situation and laughed together as we decided that survival mode for us was going to Trader Joes and picking up a bunch of frozen prepared dinners. And, man, did we enjoy those dinners for what they were, appreciating the ease they invited into our lives every time we popped one into the oven. All it really took was pausing and looking around. Stepping out the fast-forward motion and seeing what was actually happening, not what my mind was saying should be happening. As opposed to what my mind was telling me, I wasn’t failing. I wasn’t a bad mover/spouse/career woman. I had a sinus infection, we were both physically and mentally exhausted. Pretending that a big relocation and starting a new job wasn’t a big emotional, mental, and spiritual stressor was only making things worse.
Pausing and acknowledging the here-and-now can help us to 1) notice where we actually are and 2) then step out of the habitual thought patterns that can lead to more suffering. The pause can give us space to make more healthful choices, and even appreciate the moment for what it is. Calling it what it is can bring levity (even joy) to even the BIG stressors that we will all experience in our lives, as we strive for a life that is truly made for living.