This past Monday, for the first time since the 14th of December, I went into the office for work. It was also the first time I’d worked at all since December 18th. Waking up to my alarm, getting dressed, packing up my work backpack with my laptop and everything else I usually bring, and packing a lunch felt strange, almost alien. As I drove in, I wondered if anyone would make a big deal about it, and dreaded the thought. I already felt like I was just going through the motions. The last thing I wanted was extra attention. Thankfully, when I walked in, my co-workers just said hi and kept working. I was able to settle back in at my desk and catch up on everything that was going on comfortably.
One thing I’ve focused on over the past few days of being back to work is prioritizing some of my basic self-care needs. I’m “trying,” as far as appearance goes, in that I’m putting together outfits that I like, and trying at least to accessorize, even if I don’t have the energy yet for makeup. I’m also trying to make sure I move enough every day, making myself go for walks at least once a day, and minimizing my use of the elevator. I wrote early on in my blog that walking, for me, can be as important as any other medicine, and it’s been nice to give myself that time at least once or twice a day to walk, think, and get lost in some music. On Thursday, on one of my walks, TLC’s Unpretty came on my Pandora, and the lyrics really spoke to me. Especially the chorus:
You can buy your hair if it won’t grow
You can fix your nose if he says so
You can buy all the make-up
That M.A.C. can make, but if
You can’t look inside you
Find out who am I to
Be in the position that make me feel
So damn unpretty
I was so inspired by the chorus that I tweeted a link to the song when I got back to my desk, which I expanded on a bit once I got home that evening. In a lot of ways, the end of the chorus reminds me of the 2nd half of the 2nd greatest commandment in the Gospel, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39). I’ve always felt that this 2nd commandment is actually 2 commandments in one. If you are to love your neighbor as yourself, doesn’t that first require loving yourself?
In my therapy session after work on Thursday, with the chorus of Unpretty echoing in my mind, my therapist and I started working on building up some resources for me to rely on. In building up “resources,” we focus on positive skills, attitudes, and feelings that can make future EMDR work easier. Not only that, these resources will be easier to access when I hit any challenges in my everyday life that could be helped by a given attitude/skill. The first attitude/feeling we worked on was self-esteem/self-worth. My therapist walked me through thinking of what feelings are associated with this attitude, and then times in my past when I’ve felt this way, as well as images and physical/emotional sensations associated with both the attitude and those times.
As we worked on self-esteem/self-worth, some situations that came to mind when I felt good self-worth/self-esteem were some of the good times in my first couple of years of college, as well as a few different times in my time dancing hula, both with Grams and with my current hula teacher. Some images that were strong for me were mostly nature images: a cherry blossom tree just starting to bloom, rain, rainbows, sunsets, springtime.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first springtime in Seattle, in college. Growing up in southern California, I’d only known the muted, vague echoes of changes that pass for seasons here. In my first year of college, right around my birthday in early March, the bare branches started giving way to colorful bumps of new leaves and buds starting to grow. I fell in love with the springtime. I remember spending an entire Saturday afternoon in mid-spring taking pictures of all the plants on campus, everything that caught my eye, every sign of spring. Since this was almost 19 years ago, I didn’t have a smart phone, or even a digital camera to take countless pictures. Even so, I used up a roll and a half of film, trying to capture the beauty of what I saw.
During session, it was these images I thought of, with the pulsers slowly buzzing back and forth from one hand to the other. After a few rounds of using this method to build and amplify these feelings and associations, my therapist asked me if there was a single word that could represent all of this, something I could tie all of these memories and feelings to, so that, when I needed to access them again, I could think of the word and it would be, in a way, a positive trigger, or at least, that’s how I think of it all. I’m sure I’m putting my own spin on it because, not only am I not a therapist trained in EMDR, but I also don’t have verbatim recordings of each session or anything. For the self-esteem work we were doing, the word I thought of was Potential. As I drove home afterwards, I realized how all of these things tie together so perfectly, even with my last post about New Years.
Every day is a new day, with new potential. Every day, every moment, I have the choice to believe in myself, the choice to learn to love myself, to better love others, the choice to see the beauty deep inside me, and the choice to reflect it to the world or not. Every day, every hour, every minute, every person has potential. On good days, like today, that’s easier to see, easier to remember. The more I remember this, the more I focus on seeing this potential, and the more I use the resources we started building tonight, hopefully, the easier it will be to remember on the harder days or moments in the future.
How do you feel about your potential, or even the potential of every new day or hour?