There will be no playing big for me today. I’d rather play small and go home. I’m going to lean out, not in. More hiding, less seeking.
I long for solitude. A place to curl up and go unnoticed. I don’t want to be depended on for even the smallest thing—like a ride or glass of water. Today I’m unable to be strong for me, or you.
Please don’t ask anything of me, because I might let you down. Most likely, I’ll be late, ill-prepared, unkempt, and a bit disconnected. You’ll notice my hair is unwashed, my face without make-up, and my clothes are a bit mismatched. But that’s just my outsides. On the inside, my energy is low, motivation poor, and tears fall without warning. I’m sluggish and sad.
Today I’m without goals, a to-do list, or a schedule. If I were a cozy corner bookstore, a sign would crookedly hang on my door:
Many apologies. Due to unexpected circumstances, we are closed for the day. We hope to reopen soon!
My sign hangs too, it’s perhaps more subtle, but it’s there. I’m not sure why my unexpected circumstance is requiring me to close shop today. Frankly, I’ve decided it’s none of my business. What I do know is that today, I don’t have it in me to be there for you or me. So for today, I’m going to just be. Be still. Be gentle. Be kind.
For a lifetime I’ve needed you to tell me that it’s ok with you that I’m less ‘me’ on days like today. I was desperate for you to tell me it’s ok because I was unable to say it to myself. But today, I’m ok with being small, getting quiet, and hiding out. I used to feel guilty, stuck and worried that this was a permanent state. My tendency towards catastrophizing and story-telling would land me under a bridge; hungry and homeless for my remaining years if I didn’t fight through this feeling.
We live in a world that tells us it’s not ok to be compassionate and kind to ourselves. We need to, “grind it out,” “just do it,” and “suck it up.” But guess what, that’s not my kind of world, and I doubt it’s yours either, because really, that’s nobody's world. If pushing and shoving, striving and suffering is what it takes to be ‘all in,’ then I want out. I’m not down with this whole notion of “pushing through the pain.” Screw that!
The wise me—the one that I’ve come to know by heart—is gentle and loving. She knows that today is just a day. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a day. Instead of getting caught up in what “caused” today, or how to “fix” today, I’m just aware. I notice. I observe. I’m not attached.
I won’t lie and tell you that it doesn’t piss me off at first and throw me into a bit of a pity-party. I mean, I’ve got stuff to get done. Calls to make, people to take care of, clients to see, books to write, friends to meet, and coffee to drink. The guilt, oh for the love of God, the guilt is a relentless piece of work that thrives on an opportunity like today. But you know who’s even a bigger player on days like today? Self-criticism. She slithers in all sly and sneaky and then poisons you with her lethal venom. But I know better now.
History proves, that if you beat yourself up on a day where you already feel a little down and defeated, you perpetuate the cycle and set yourself up for future suffering. Instead, let’s put the sign on our door. Let’s just close up shop for the day. I promise, nothing catastrophic will happen to you or me if we take a day off.
So, just for today, I’m going to be quiet. With my phone silenced, my latte warm next to me, I will settle in. Phone calls, texts, and emails will wait. Netflix, a hot bubble bath, and my kindness towards myself won’t.
Tomorrow—if I’m this gentle with myself today—I will rise up. For you and me.