There is a mountain in Washington state, just across the US border from where I live called Mount Baker. You can see it from just about anywhere here, and if you can’t see it all you need to do is walk a block or two in any direction and Presto! There it is.
If you look at it from the west side of town you see one view, but if you drive to the east side of town, where I live, it can look completely different, because you’re looking at it from a different angle. Still the same mountain, but different somehow.
I had an experience this week that changed my perspective in a different way.
In my last blog post, I wrote about some of the struggles I experienced in the church, and as a new mom. Stuff that I had been hanging onto, dragging around with me for almost 30 years, but once I wrote about it and put it out there I started to feel some relief from the weight of it all.
I didn’t know where to go from there with my blog, though. I was tempted to put out another post that said “I got nothin’,” but decided just to wait and see what came up. Then Sunday rolled around, the day I usually post, and still, nothing. I started to get a little agitated, but something was telling me to just wait.
When I got up Monday morning I checked my email while enjoying my morning cup of coffee, and boom, a change of perspective was there waiting for me.
The email was titled “I’m sorry”, and was from someone from that time in my life, from the church Glenn worked at, reaching across the years to say “I’m sorry,” but also with an explanation of what was going on in their life at the time. Immediately I was able to see the situation from a slightly different angle, and the chains fell away. The ball of energy and emotion that I had been carrying for so long started to melt, and all the resentment and anger left. It wasn’t even directed at this person, but it didn’t matter. Just a simple apology, a little understanding and an explanation from someone was all I needed to let go and be free from all of that mess.
Then I started to think, “How much better would it have been if we could have just been open and honest with what we were feeling 30 years ago? How much hurt, resentment and anger would have been avoided?" What a waste.
And it is a waste. An opportunity for empathy and compassion, for a deeper connection with another human being, which I desperately needed, was missed because we were too afraid, and that makes me sad. We were too busy trying our hardest to fit into the mould of what the church said we should be, as women, wives and mothers, and speaking for myself, too ashamed and afraid to admit that I was failing miserably.
Looking back now, with the perspective of time, a little more life experience, and some more information I see things differently. I wasn’t failing at anything. I was simply trying my best to fit into a box that I didn’t belong in, and I am finally able to step back, with a new perspective, and say “No more.”
Now the dominoes have started to fall, and I’m cutting the cords from those things that have been slowing me down and holding me back. No more to the guilt and shame, because I don’t need to be carrying it.
My daughter Noa sent me a Tik Tok video last week of a middle-aged woman talking about how even though she’s the age she is now, she is also her 30-year-old self, 25-year-old self, 15-year-old, on and on, all rolled into who she is now, and that resonated with me. Yes, I’m 55 and proud of it. I wasn’t supposed to be here still so I’m quite thrilled to be 55.
But I’m also the ten-year-old having to start in a new school and feeling unsure of herself.
I’m still the 14-year-old, completely naive girl being pressured into a sexual relationship well before being ready, but I’m finally able to let that go and say “No more” to the guilt and shame that I’ve carried around for so long.
I'm still the teenager, laughing and giggling with her friends and testing the limits, getting caught skipping school and doing crazy things that I'd never dream of doing now.
I’m still the 21-year-old new wife trying to figure out the whole marriage thing (still working on that), the 23-year-old who suffered a miscarriage, the 24-year-old new mom who doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing and feeling overwhelmed, the woman in her 30's with four young kids thinking "I may not survive this with my sanity intact" and the 50-year old whose life just came to a screeching halt with a cancer diagnosis.
All of those girls and women are still a part of me, which explains why I’m such an emotional wreck sometimes! But I have nothing but love and compassion for those parts of me, and that’s a big change. The negative self-talk has stopped. I noticed that a few weeks ago. I’m not telling myself what a loser I am because I failed at one simple thing, and what a relief that is.
I look back at what my life was like before cancer and think wow, you had a lot going on! Wife, mother to 4 teens, a full-time career, volunteering, and going to school in the evening. I was tired, and yet I would still beat myself up if I didn’t get enough exercise each week, telling myself how weak, and lazy I was. WHAT?
As women, we’re pulled in so many directions all at the same time, and then feel guilty when we don’t give 110% to everything. I’m sure men feel the same way at times, but I’ve never been one, so I don’t know what it’s like. I guess one of the gifts that I’ve been given over the past four years is the opportunity to slow down, look around, and re-evaluate. I’m not weak, or a loser for not getting out and exercising 5 times a week or not having dinner ready every night and letting my kids eat cereal or whatever else they can scrounge up. I’m just a normal person trying to navigate her way through life.
I’m sharing that message with my daughters as well as my two bonus daughters. It’s ok, you can’t do everything all at once. You’re going to school, working, trying to make your way in the world, and sometimes adulting is hard, but you’re doing great and each one of you is uniquely fantastic! Give yourself a break!
You will also have people come into your life, and have experiences that tell you otherwise. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’, so surround yourself with people who you can be vulnerable and share your struggles with. You are going to need friends who hold you up and cheer you on, who will also be honest with you when you’ve messed up, then stand by you while you clean up the mess. You are strong and resilient, even if you don’t see it yet.
Finally, when I look back at my life now I can see how all of the experiences I've had in my life, whether positive or negative, and all of the decisions I made have shaped me into the person I am today, and I like that person. I've finally been able to cut the cord, the one that was keeping me anchored in place, and it's time to move on.
© Lauries Place, 2022
I'm REALLY excited to let everyone know that the documentary DOSED2: The Trip of a Lifetime is finally finished! It's the story of my journey with cancer and how psilocybin and other plant medicines helped me. There will be a screening on August 3rd at the Vogue Theatre in downtown Vancouver and tickets will be available as of Friday, June 24th. It's going to be a great event with Dr. Gabor Mate, Dennis McKenna, and others from the documentary, including me, doing a Q&A after the screening. Click the link below to purchase tickets - they're going to sell out quickly!
Check out the trailer at www.dosedmovie.com