Slow Leaks

Have you questioned your self-esteem since your loss? I have.

I’ve recently gone through some things that has made me question myself. This is unlike me. I don’t know if it’s all this COVID and all that brings, could be a part of it. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of whacky behavior over the past few months. I’m sure that you have too. Regardless of the cause, I don’t like it. No one wants to feel any unease.

We are sensitive beings so we naturally absorb what’s going on around us, whether huge and sweeping like a worldwide pandemic or subtle. It’s easy to quickly get caught up and react to negative situations, feelings and energies. I know that I have fallen victim to this trap. Something happens, I feel victimized and hurt, I react, blame myself, feel bad, blame myself and repeat. As if going over negative feelings and situations in my head will make it go away and I’ll feel better. But instead, all that does is dig the groove deeper like the needle on a record player, keeping them there.

I recently found a self-guided meditation on YouTube for self-esteem https://youtu.be/5Za1RZWmnYA. It’s an easy 30-minute meditation that doesn’t require any meditation experience.

What stood out for me was that the person guiding the meditation asks you to go back to a time in your life when you felt the most self-confident. See yourself there, feel it…I immediately saw myself 21 years ago when I had just met my late husband, the summer of 1999 and our new love was just beginning to bloom. My son had just moved out of the house, I had a job that I enjoyed and felt valued. My small income was better than the output and life was simple. A lot of hope for the future was out there in the world and in myself. I felt loved and secure.

As I continued on this self-guided meditation, I felt that self-assurance I had during that time two decades ago. I even saw myself driving home from work, feeling good about myself, my job, my family, my new boyfriend, all felt right. But what stood out the most is how I felt about myself. Life was not perfect by any means, but I had no self-doubts and felt grounded and secure. Not an arrogant security, but a deep sense of self-love and well-being that was so natural as if it was “just there.”

So, what happened? How did I lose that natural flow along the way? It wasn’t until this morning and during the meditation that it hit me that I’ve lost some of this self-love along the way. It seeped out slowly like a tire with a nail in it. How does that happen? No one wakes up one day and says I’m going to stop feeling good. If it was that abrupt, I would have surely plugged the leak, anyone would.

If I had to make a good guess, I would say that widowhood has been a part of this leak of self-love. They say that losing a spouse is up there with the top loses because your day-to-day life changes drastically and in an instant. No longer is your confidant, cheer leader, best friend and lover there to root you on and support, no matter what. Instead, you are left to go it alone. It’s not so easy to do at first.

Joan Didion, my favorite writer says that “Life changes in an ordinary instant.” She lost her husband suddenly like I did. And Joyce Carol Oats, who writes in “A Widows Story,” about how being awakened by the barreling sound of the trash trucks on an early cold winters morning would jar her back to the reality that she was widowed and had lost her support, as she’d jump out of bed to drag the heavy trash cans out to the curb.

This has happened to me more times than I can count. Not just the trash cans but many little things. And each and every time I suppose some of my self-esteem would leak out. I think it’s those “little leaks,” that over time can be deflating. One day you wake up and go outside to find a flat tire that you didn’t know you’d had. You go to get it repaired and are told the nail was most likely there for a long time, a slow leak. The nail is removed, the tire is patched, air is returned and your tire is as good as new and you safely drive away. All fixed within a matter of minutes.

If we look at things this way, a slow leak that causes damage over a long period of time can be instantly repaired like that tire. We don’t need to spend days, weeks, months, years reversing negative thoughts, patterns and situations. Instead, like a tire patch that immediately returns a non-workable car to the road safely, we too can patch our slow leaks and immediately return to a positive and self-assured way of living.

So, patch your slow leaks so you can live your life in the joy and grace that is there for all of us. Its right there. No looking necessary.

-Rachel

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