This morning, I am remembering a day in March, when my oldest scheduled a tour of a potential university to attend and The Spouse was unable to take him. It was a formal orientation with presentations and a meet and greet with faculty so it would be important to his decision.
I was newly finished my 8 week adult day treatment program and instead of feeling refreshed and enlightened, I was battered and bruised, brutally raw and vulnerable. Don't get me wrong, there was never a more supportive environment -- full of information, handouts and opportunities to share, be heard, and feel loved. But here I was, taking my first few wobbly steps on the high wire and I felt messy and uncoordinated; like I was struggling to hear my more enlightened voice over the ear piercing alarm going off in my head.
Days leading up to going, I carefully juggled every mind trap we had explored: what if we get lost and never make it there? (catastrophizing) All these other parents will take one look at me and wonder what is wrong with me! (mind reading). I should be able to do this! It is just a simple tour! Hundreds of other parents will be doing it! (Should thinkinging, Unfair Comparisons).
These are called cognitive distortions and sometimes, this style of thinking causes your brain to focus on irrelevant details or primes your brain to better receive feelings that may not be true or are not be important.
As anxious as I was, I knew this was important to my son so I programmed the GPS, programmed my phone's GPS and we left an hour earlier than we had to just in case I got lost once we got on campus.
The day went off without a hitch, which boosted my self-confidence. I tried to change my thinking to:
I was able to successfully complete a stressful event today, even though I am still working on my anxiety and stress in social settings.
What I did not expect during our tour was a flicker of contentment, excitement, warmth and a sense of belonging. I had been in school, as either a teacher or a student for thirty four years. I understood school. It was an environment of structure and timetables, where achievements were rewarded, and where you build community and connections among like minded people. These were things my inner perfectionista could get behind; where my control freak felt at home and where I knew there was a beginning and end...with an overreaching goal. (I don't know why I can't look at work this way....essentially I could apply this thinking if I tried...hmmmmmm....)
It was the same feeling I got in class in ADTP or MAG at the hospital. Engaged. Accountable. Excited. Energized.
My family doctor had been on me to find my passion and I hadn't understood her at the time. Is learning my passion? Is the achievement of accomplishing a credit or completing an assignment what gets me going? Or is it sharing ideas and learning from professionals, experts and other students? Maybe it is all these things.
So before MAG finished, I was online reviewing various course options that were out there that interest me. I looked into an adult education certificate to augment my teaching degree...and round out my resume as a librarian (I have done a lot of programming for children and youth, but little experience with programming for adults). But for some reason, I didn't find the motivate to actually register. So does that mean I don't want to be a student anymore, or maybe that was just not "the thing" that sparked my passion.
Yesterday I took in a webinar Open House for Inner Mean Girl Reform School. The 90 minute presentation by Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo discussed the mean girl each woman has inside them that perpetuates the negative self talk or self-destructive behaviors. They talked about how to bring your mean girl (or girls --apparently there are 13 archetypes) out into the light....get to know them, draw them, name them, identify their voices so that you can recognize them when you hear them whispering in your ear. With careful work, you can turn your inner mean girl(s) into allies by using their powers for good, instead of evil.
This struck a cord with me. So I have registered for their course and will be spending the next couple of months with my inner mean girls----in reform school.
There is an online community to connect to for support and their are readings and videos and all sorts of things that will help me with this process.
I am excited.
This weekend I will also be doing my Reiki level 1 certification.
I am excited.
There was no hesitation with these. There was no second guessing. There was only the spark and passion to go further. For now, I will keep the momentum going along this road. Who knows where it will lead, but today, I am grateful to be on this journey.