“To get free, learn how to stay.”
~ Laura McKowen
I have to practice this over and over and over and over. To just stay. Right where I am, with what I’m feeling. Which, over the last few days, has been bubbling anxiety and not-very-grounded-ness. I’ve got a talk coming up on Saturday and I’m really fucking nervous. I’m also currently in the UK and have been away from my kid for 8 days (and counting) and I’m missing him like mad. I’m out of my groove, my flow, my routine, you know? My impulse is to run. Not physically, but emotionally. I can’t bear it. I want to numb out; with wine, with Netflix, with food, with anything that’ll somehow remove me from the nerves and the missing and the shakiness. But I’m staying because I’ve learned that although it’s not the easiest way, it’s the place that ultimately soothes and points me to freedom.
It’s the place that teaches me to curiously observe what the bugger is going on in my head without responding to it with 4 giant-ass glasses of wine (I’ve not drunk alcohol for 10 months now, and I’ve never felt more clear and energised).
It’s the place where I get to meet the part of myself that I find the most challenging—the messy, scrappy, complicated, wonky part of me. I’m all, “Hey Liz, I know you’re all jangly and ARGHHH right now, but you’re just going to have to tolerate it, my friend. Just stay. Don’t run. It won’t help, not in the long-run. Sit with it.”
I said the same to a dear client this morning. She gets anxious too. I said, “Can you just sit with it, instead of moving away?” And she said, “Urgh, I’m trying, but it’s so hard.”
I nodded my head.
It is hard.
But it’s worth it. Because when I’m bumping up against myself and scared and unsure, it means I’m not stagnating and I’m not stuck and I’m not bored. It means I am living and learning. I’m not just bumbling along. And I know it sounds a cliche and cheesy, but doing stuff that scares you, that challenges you, that makes you want to climb out of your own skin, is ultimately good for you. Because it means you’re alive and growing.
Learn how to stay. Over and over and over.