I want to be happy. I want to be healthy.
My mantra, every day, for the last 8 weeks. Week 8 officially started today, and every day, at least once a day, I remind myself that I want to be happy. I want to be healthy. Isn’t it strange – something that I know that I want, more than anything, I need to remind myself of.
More often than not, there is someone else keeping me from my goals of happiness and health. I call her the inner mean girl. She is me, or least part of me. She’s always present, hissing the things that I fear most into my ears. When I found out that a friend betrayed me recently, the mean girl leaned in and hissed that it was true, the things that my friend was saying. That I was obnoxious and no one really liked me, and I was merely tolerable. The mean girl curls into bed with me, some nights, wraps her arms around me, and reminds me that the other pillow is empty – that, because of me, the other pillow will always be empty. Her whispers keep me up all night, forcing me to remember the shape that used to lay there. She doesn’t care that it makes me cry. The mean girl reminds me that I’m ugly, even though I know that I’m not. She tells that I’m a failure, even though the proof is in the pudding that I’m absolutely not. She reminds me that I’m a shitty daughter, a horrible sister, even though I know in the deepest part of me that I’m neither. She laughs as she tells me that I’ll likely be alone forever. She is my Gollum, my Dark Phoenix, my anxiety, my depression.
I fucking hate my inner mean girl.
The last 8 weeks have been, in a word, illuminating. I have never felt so healthy, or so happy. The best part is that the bitchy, terrible monster of a mean girl has been all but vanquished. She sometimes tries to crawl into bed with me. She still reminds me that I’m worthless, that sugar or ordering take out will make me feel better after the end of a long hard day. The most invaluable part of this challenge has been silencing her.
For example. Last week was a long one. A big event, lots of meetings, a lunch with the CEO, and all I wanted to do Friday night was order take out and watch a movie. I knew I wanted to sleep early, because my parents were coming in. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I really didn’t. I could feel her stir and wake – urging me to change into pajamas and get comfortable. Telling me that I would get up early and hit a early yoga session. She reminded me that my knee, my old arthritic knee was already aching – why go to dance temple and make it more sore?
I knew that if I agreed, if I slipped into old habits, I would immediately regret it. So, I literally marched up the stairs, got my yoga clothes, and walked back into the living room. I literally chased my roommate out the door (he made the mistake of telling me that he really wanted to hit the gym) as I pulled my things together. I chased him out of the house, locked the door behind us, and took myself out for a salad. After reading a delicious novel over salad and mint tea, I went to dance temple. The mean girl didn’t say anything. Although once I came home, I iced my knee (and yes, really. I’m 30 something and have arthritis in my left knee. How stupid is that?) and watched a movie in bed. While having tea, of course.
And you know what? That stupid jerk didn’t say a peep. She shut up as soon as I locked the door behind me, and didn’t come out all night. I danced all night at dance temple, and I laughed and sang and danced and felt the universe start shifting in me. Do you know that moment? It happens sometimes when I’m dancing – usually, when I’m dancing with no other reason to dance. I feel rooted to the earth, and as infinite as the universe. I love that feeling – I get it almost every time I go to dance temple. In those moments, I feel like I’m invincible.
After 8 weeks of daily meditation, and almost daily yoga, I have a theory about this mean girl. The days that you are truly open, the days that you break your heart open and let everything in, are the days that you are going to have a hard time. Those are the days that you are inviting the good and the bad in, the days that you’re remembering your love and your loss, your mistakes and your glories. When you decide to let the universe have your way with you, the universe is going to make you face everything – not just the bright shiny parts. She’s always been there – but the times that she’s been strongest is when I’m struggling to get past her. This bitch holds me down as I fight to breathe, fight to shine, fight to be happy and healthy. As Liz Gilbert put it – I’m wrestling alligators. I’m fighting against my past, against my ego, against this mean girl – because all I want is to be happy, and to be healthy.
And I am. And I’m only going to get better, baby. And since I’m pulling a lot of this journey from Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” (oh hush. Reading that book was like finding a piece of my soul. I adore her.), I’m going to close this down with a few quotes about happiness and the search for it. I have the bit about my treasure on my mirror. Because I have to remember that I already have all of the keys – I just need to do the work to find the door.
“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t you will eat away your innate contentment. It’s easy enough to pray when you’re in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments.”