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Entering the Arena

I write a lot about connection; how it is vital to our happiness, our wholeness, our purpose in life.  

Each day I struggle with "I-don't-need-anyone-because-I-am-protecting-myself-from-crumbling-into-a-mess-if-you-disappoint-me-or-let-me-down-itis" and the prescribed path to wellness continues to feel like a combination of rehab and a 1/4 cup of cod liver oil. 

Lately I feel myself withdrawing; hauling up anchor and heading to the solitude of the open water. It is peaceful out there. The water is calm, no one asks anything of me and I risk nothing.  But it is lonely and it is easy to lose track of the horizon, unable to find your way back.

Last night, while trying out my talk to text feature on my phone, I was texting my Sista Perfectionista, who I haven't seen in a couple of weeks.  An unfortunate mumble on my part turned camping near a beach to another not as nice "b" word and my plan for a 6 night trip became six months As I read it over after I hit send, I started to giggle.  She commented back about why I wanted to camp with a "beach" and that six months with the "beach" indeed going to be an adventure!  

My giggles turned to laugh/cry and tears streamed down my face.  She continued to tease me and I continued to come unglued.  She admitted her husband failed to "get it" when she explained why she was laughing herself and I felt a true sense of being blessed with being able to laugh at myself, with her, in a completely unhinged, out of control, no judgement way.  Thank the universe we have each other.  I have a safe place to put my heart in her and it will be safe!  I can dare greatly, and share greatly because she has earned the right to hear my stories!

The only way to continue to recover is to continue to dare greatly and enter the arena of life and love; connection and vulnerability, day after day---celebrating my successes and learning from my attempts.  

Brene Brown was inspired by a section in Teddy Roosevelt's 1910 speech known as "The Man in the Arena" when she titled her book "Daring Greatly" and it appears often as a mile marker along my path.

 The Man in the Arena

     Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic"
                                          delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910                                           

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

My children are a great example of daring greatly.  I shower them with love and kisses and snuggles and while I know they are mine for only a short time, I have chosen to utterly and completely surrender my heart to the people who will absolutely leave me one day.  I don't see how it could be any other way. My soul sings they most joyous song when they are close.  It fills me completely and keeps me mindful of the now.

It is not perfect; often my oldest and I will talk in loud voices AT each other, each of us saying the same thing but it is almost as if we are communicating in a different language.  It takes us a while to untangle it all--but we continue to engage each other, determined that it is worth it.

My youngest often doesn't ask for what he needs and he gets frustrated or his feelings hurt.  I have to go slow with him. He needs to practice in a safe environment and we are working on compromises and speaking your mind.  If we can learn this now, we have a chance of some peace during the teen years. 

Sometimes, you wonder why you bother. Sometimes you want to give up and let your kids stay up too late, skip homework, eat Pop Tarts all day just so they will eat without a fuss.  

But I continue to enter the arena...because they are worth the fight.  When I am faced with that sad or angry face I explain that yes I love you.  I love you so much that I will continue to do the right thing for you...because I am your mom and it is my job to make you the best you I can while at the same time, trying to help you avoid pain, hurt, suffering and be a healthy, strong you.  I tell them that the measure of my love is that  I will pick up my sword and shield, 24/7, and drag myself into that arena because I care.  

At some point, both my kids will have their own lives.  The hardest work I do is love them and let them go, and hope they continue to venture back; to seek me out for advice and conversation, and to be here on the holidays even it is because they now understand all that was done for them, and know just how their presence will be the thing that will bring me such joy.


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