On What We Owe Ourselves…

I am in therapy because duh. A few months ago, my therapist and I figured out that most of what I do is based on what I believe I owe my fellow man. So, my homework for that week was to try and make a list of what I owe myself.

A Break

I was never more sure of who I was than when I was 16. At that age, I knew that I was going to be married with kids by 30. I was going to be a lawyer defending prisoners and/or juvenile delinquents. I was going to plant the perfect church for perfect people and I was going to have a blog with more than twenty posts… 16 year old Joanna would be very disappointed in 30 year old Joanna. But what the hell does she know?! She’s 16 and has never been to first base. She worked really hard for really long but alas, none of her plans came to fruition (thank the Good Lord.). Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things don’t go as planned and it’s really disappointing. However, more often than not, it makes room for even better things! Still, when we work that hard and the desired outcome isn’t what we wanted or if we somehow make things worse, it’s easy to think of ourselves as failures. We’re not. You’re not. I’m not. I knew what I thought I knew and made decisions with the information available to me. I need to remind myself that it’s ok to let myself off the hook. So, sometimes, I owe myself a break.

Letting The Voices Speak

You know when you were a kid and someone made fun of you and hurt your feelings? But you didn’t want anyone to know you were a bitchass so, instead of admitting you were hurt, you just laughed it off? Then you became a teenager and you started to have your own views? Those views were at odds with what your parents taught you and things got tense around the dinner table. So, you decided to just keep your opinions to yourself because they would never understand anyway. Then you got your first job and had to take shit from your boss. And you couldn’t speak up for yourself because you desperately needed that job. We suppress our voices a lot of the time because we’re just trying to make it through the day. Unfortunately, if we keep shushing them, they get louder in different ways: anxiety, anger, passive aggression, etc. Sometimes my head feels… noisy. I’m trying to make it through the day so, I quiet them down as much as I can in order to just keep moving. It works for a while but when a new issue arises, those parts come back louder still until I stop to listen to what they’ve been trying to say for decades. They need to be heard so, sometimes, I owe myself letting the voices speak.

An Honest Conversation With Yourself

When I asked her what she owed herself, my sweet friend Bethany said “Honesty. Like a clear vision of who I am and who I am not”. Most people would answer this question in terms of their functions. “I am a mother” “I am a friend” “I am a husband” Etc. We are more than our functions. We have to be. I think about Bethany’s definition of honesty a lot. When I do or say things – are those actions a reflection of who I am or who I am not? Am I listening to the voices I trapped inside of me and what they’re trying to say about my identity? Are you? Of course we are all (hopefully) constantly evolving but right now, in this moment – do you have a clear vision of who you are? It’s hard to tell if you don’t make time to take a break; to listen to the voices trying to speak and reflect on them. So, sometimes, I owe myself an honest conversation with myself.

Trusting My Intentions

I grew up with a really toxic form of Christian theology which teaches us that at our core: we’re all trash and should never trust ourselves – only God. But what happens when you don’t know what God is saying? Well, you obviously go to your Church leaders because God tells them all His secrets. Then they can tell you in this holy-broken-telephone-game sort of way and you would know how to act. God tells them. They tell you. You do what they say because their intentions are pure and holy and yours are stupid and sinful. I cannot tell you how much of my life has been wasted worrying that I haven’t been considerate enough. Or kind enough. Or empathic enough. Or something ENOUGH because my intentions were tainted by the fact that at my core – I’m trash. The thing is, we were made in God’s image. Sacred. Holy. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Over the last year I learned to replace some of the “It’s all your fault!” and “Why did you really do/say that?” and “You should have known better!” with “That’s about them, not you” and “Your heart was in the right place” and “You did your best”. So, sometimes, I owe myself to trust my intentions.
P.S. I actually think that the voice reminding me of some of my intentions IS the voice of God so, suck it toxic church leaders!

What Do You Owe Yourself?

I am 31 today! Gross. Let me tell you: 30 has been the best year of my life! I have an incredible job with an even more incredible boss. I started pursuing writing and comedy. I was featured in Zoofest (Just For Laughs activities!). I met Jake and Amir! I reconnected with old friends, got closer to my mains and met new, incredible people! I saw one of my best friends in person after almost ten years. I found $20 in an old jacket?! I got deeper in my faith. I started therapy and kept at it! If you can afford it – start therapy ❤ I usually feel moved to write about what we owe our fellow man and I hope that your life is largely guided by that principle. I also hope you don’t lose too much of yourself on that path. If one road is “What We Owe Each Other”, the parallel road must be “What We Owe Ourselves” and this past year, I finally found my way to it.

I hope you spend some time on What We Owe Ourselves Road. Not “What We Owe Ourselves Lane”; that one’s a trick and it runs perpendicular to the other two taking you further away from who you’re meant to be. That one tells you to put your happiness before anything else and that a day at the spa is a cure all and it suggests that if you perform your functions well enough: you’re gold. I mean the real road. The one that reminds you that you’re not just your functions. That you can and should go a little easier on yourself. That your intentions are good and you need to give yourself a break. And when you make a mistake, it re-directs you towards who you are and away from who you are not.

Safe travels, friends! Make sure to let me know all the stops you take down What We Owe Ourselves Road! 🙂

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